PRAIRIE DU CHIEN 9/1 – It was obvious from the start of last Friday night’s Southwest Wisconsin Conference contest that visiting Lancaster was not intimidated at the least by a Prairie du Chien squad that was ranked No. 2 in the state’s division 5 coaches poll.
Though both teams entered the SWC opener with unbeaten records of 2-0, it was Lancaster who remained perfect on the season with a thrilling 28-27 come-from-behind victory over the Blackhawks.
In a tightly contested game with no turnovers and very few penalties, it was a blocked punt by the Flying Arrows that turned the tied in their favor when things looked bleak in the closing minutes.
Following a first half that saw each team score on their first two offensive possessions of the game, Prairie du Chien held a slim lead of 13-12 at halftime.
Lancaster went 58 yards in 10 plays on the game’s opening drive, capping off the series with a 21-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Nolan Wolf to fellow junior Quinton Ploessl. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving Lancaster with a 6-0 lead with 5:09 to play in the opening quarter.
Prairie du Chien answered on their first possession of the game with a four-play, 56-yard scoring drive that took just under two minutes off the clock. Xander Dehart’s extra-point kick gave the Blackhawks a 7-6 lead with 3:16 to play in the opening quarter.
On their second possession of the game, Lancaster used eight plays to cover 61 yards, getting a 14-yard TD run from junior halfback Semaj Venson. The two-point conversion run was stopped short, leaving Lancaster with a 12-7 advantage.
Prairie again had an answer, scoring on their second offensive possession of the game, needing 15 plays to go 65 yards, including three fourth-down conversions, before getting a seven-yard TD plunge from Blake Thiry. Prairie’s extra-point kick failed, leaving the Blackhawks with a 13-12 lead with 1:37 to play in the half.
Lancaster then went three-and-out on their third offensive possession, and were forced to punt the ball back to the Blackhawks with 34 seconds showing on the first half clock.
A penalty on first down and a sack by Devin Tydrich on second down essentially ended any chance Prairie had of getting a quick score, as the Blackhawks let the clock run out on the first half.
On their opening possession of the second half, Prairie used seven plays to go 94 yards, getting a 60-yard TD run from Thiry to take a 19-12 lead with 7:33 showing on the clock. The two-point conversion pass was broken up, keeping Lancaster within one score.
After losing three yards on three plays, Lancaster was forced to punt on their first possession of the second half, giving the ball back over the Blackhawks on their own 40 with 5:38 to play in the third quarter.
Unable to stop the Blackhawks yet again, Lancaster’s defense gave up a nine-play scoring drive that covered 60 yards and took 4:37 off the clock. Bryce Lenzendorf capped of the drive with a five-yard TD run, followed by a two-point conversion run by Thiry for a 27-12 Prairie du Chien advantage.
Needing a score and needing it fast, Lancaster started their next possession at their own 36-yard line.
On the tenth play of the drive senior fullback Peyton Alvarado busted loose for a 23-yard touchdown run with 7:47 to play in the contest. His two-point conversion run pulled Lancaster to within 27-20.
Having not stopped the Blackhawks all night, the Arrow defense forced Prairie to punt for the first time on fourth-and-nine from their own 21-yard line.
As fate would have it, the Arrows busted through the line to block the punt, which Prairie covered up at the 23-yard line, giving the ball back over to the Arrows with 5:48 to play.
On the very next play, Alvarado busted up the middle for a 20-yard gain, and wasted no time on the next play scoring from three yards out, pulling Lancaster to within 27-26. Needing a two-point conversion, Alvarado wasn’t about to be stopped, putting Lancaster up 28-27 with 5:31 showing on the clock.
Prairie started their next possession at the 42-yard line, fumbling on the first play, but regaining possession on a 10-yard loss.
Faced with fourth-and-five from their own 47-yard line, a pass attempt fell incomplete, giving the ball back over to Lancaster at the 47-yard line with 2:55 to play.
Three straight handoffs to Alvarado put Lancaster at fourth-and-less than a yard on the Prairie du Chien 38-yard line. With the game on the line, Nolan Wolf got the first down on a quarterback sneak to seal the victory with under two minutes to play.
While Prairie concluded the contest with 280 yards of total offense on 43 plays, Lancaster accumulated 233 yards of total offense on 44 plays.
Leading the Lancaster rushing attack that finished with 189 yards on 36 attempts, was Alvarado, who had 110 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He was followed by Venson who had 46 yards and a sore on four carries, while Nolan Wolf added 22 yards on six attempts.
Through the air, Wolf completed 4-of-7 passing attempts for 44 yards and one touchdown. Ploessl had two receptions for 40 yards and one touchdown to lead the Lancaster receivers.
Defensively for the Arrows, Jackson VanNatta was in on a team-high 12 tackles, followed closely by Logan Wolf with 11 and Devin Tydrich with eight. Tydrich also had one forced fumble.
With the win, Lancaster joins Brodhead/Juda as the only remaining unbeaten teams in the SWC.
The Arrows will next travel to Mauston (1-2) for a crossover contest this Friday night. The Golden Eagles started the season off with losses to Tomah and Sparta, but are coming off a 39-0 win over Westfield.