KAUKAUNA — Timely plays on offense and four quarters of aggressive defense paid off on a cool and drizzly homecoming night as the Kaukauna Ghosts defeated perennial rival Kimberly 14-13.

The win moves the Ghosts (7-1, 5-1) into first place in the Fox Valley Association with one game left in the season against Appleton East.

The Papermakers, (6-1, 5-1) struck first, taking a 7-0 lead over Kaukauna midway through the first quarter.

Kaukauna’s first scoring drive began with a fourth-down stop on the Kaukauna 9 and ended with an Aiden Reardon 6-yard TD run to tie the score at 7 with about 3 minutes left until halftime.

Kaukauna’s Reed Wittman ended Kimberly’s next possession with an interception on a deep ball with 2:41 left in the half.

After the pick, Kaukauna QB Finnley Doriot ran for a 78-yard TD to take a 14-7 lead over Kimberly.

Kimberly was able to score with 25 seconds left in the half, however a decision to go for two would come back to haunt the Papermakers when the play failed and Kaukauna took a 14-13 lead into halftime.

The second half was all about defense.

The Ghosts were unable to capitalize on a John Neumann interception with 2:41 in the third and after a scoreless third quarter, Kaukauna continued to lead Kimberly 14-13.

Neither team could find the end zone in the fourth quarter, and with 1:09 left in the game, a Sam DiPiazza interception sealed the win.

Kaukauna, which has qualified for the post-season for a program record sixth consecutive season, faces Appleton East Friday at home.

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.