Southwest Wisconsin traveled well to Madison Nov. 20 as two area teams played in the WIAA State Football Championships at Camp Randall.
In the early game of the day, a dramatic comeback at the end of the first half by the Darlington Redbirds was not enough to overcome a record-tying distance of a field goal by St. Mary Springs to keep a tie, and a brief lead was given up in the second half.
Things did not look like they would be that close for much of the first half, as St. Mary Springs easily went to score three touchdowns while keeping Darlington off the board for most of the half.
But things changed with 2:43 left in the first half when Darlington's Myles Leahy ran 42 yards for their first points of the game. After the extra point was blocked, Darlington recovered a pooch kick and 41 seconds later added their second score.
With a two-point conversion making it 14-21, Darlington kicked off again. St. Mary Springs fumbled that kickoff, setting Darlington to tie the game on a Jason Singer 14-yard scamper with 57 seconds left on the clock, and all of a sudden, it was a tie game.
St. Mary Springs crossed mid-field on a five-play, 34-yard drive, setting up a 49-yard field goal as time expired, sending them to the locker room with a three point lead.
The third quarter was rather silent, with St. Mary Springs adding another field goal. In the fourth quarter, Darlington took its first and only lead of the day, as Hunter Johnson ran 14 yards. The extra point made it 28-27, in favor of the Redbirds.
From there, St. Mary Springs marched down the field to retake the lead on a 39-yard field goal with 4:19 left in the game. After Darlington was unable to convert a fourth and six, handing the ball to St. Mary Springs on their own 27-yard line, a fourth down was repeated when a seemingly first down run was wiped off the board with a false start penalty. That however worked in St. Mary SPrings favor when a 26-yard pass gave Darlington's opponent their final touchdown, placing the game out of reach with 51 seconds left, with the score 37-28.
Lancaster wins seventh crown
Right after the Darlington game, the Lancaster Flying Arrows took the field against 2012 Championship opponent Amherst. Looking to attack from the start, Lancaster never trailed in the game, and led the way after scoring its third touchdown - a two-yard run by Tyler Glass with 5:31 left in the first half.
Lancaster scored first with a 13-yard run by Glass, answered by a 44-yard touchdown run by Amherst running back Groshek. Lancaster took the lead again with 1:56 left in the first quarter on a 72-yard Nick Wood run, with Amherst responding less than two minutes into the second quarter with a 16-yard run.
Amherst nearly tied the game at the end of the first half, but as they brought the ball within three yard of the end zone, an Andy Ryan-forced fumble allowed Glass to recover the ball with 21 seconds remaining.
In the third quarter, Lancaster's defense kept Amherst off the board, while Tyler Glass collected his third touchdown - a 28-yard pass from Nate Tranel to extend the lead to 27-14.
After adding another touchdown - Glass' fourth of the day, a one-yard run - to make the score 35-14, Tranel slammed the door on Amherst with two interceptions in the fourth quarter. The first took place on Amherst's drive immediately after Lancaster's score where Amherst had driven to the Lancaster 43-yard line. Tranel intercepted the ball, and returned it 11 yards into Amherst territory.
While Amherst recovered a Tyler Glass fumble two plays later, and subsequently drove to a touchdown to make it 35-21, the drive-interception-fumble-drive ate a total of 5:23 off the clock.
Lancaster's next possession did not end with any points, but it took another 2:49 off the clock, and gave the ball to Amherst with 3:04 left in the game and down two touchdowns. That potential sense of urgency led to Tranel's second interception. One play later, Brett Snider rushed for 76 yard and a touchdown to give you the final score of 41-21.
Pick up copies of the Nov. 27 editions of the Republican Journal and Grant County Herald Independent for a complete wrap-up of these games, and look to SWNews4U.com for more photos and video from the State Championships.