SOUTH WAYNE - For a moment, it appeared Black Hawk was going to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. However, Potosi found a way to snatch it right back.
The Warriors grabbed their first lead of the night when senior wide receiver Hayden Schliem out-jumped Potosi defender Tim Fritz to haul in a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Merick Meythaler and put Black Hawk ahead with 31 seconds remaining on the clock.
But, that was plenty of time for Potosi to respond as Fritz organized a three-play, 71-yard scoring drive in the final 25 seconds of regulation, hitting junior Alex Wright with a 20-yard touchdown strike as time expired to lift the Chieftains to a 15-13 Six Rivers Conference victory over the Warriors at Murphy Field on Friday, Aug. 26.
“That was a great drive,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz about the Warriors’ late touchdown march. “Our pass protection was pretty solid and Merik did a good job of organizing the hurry-up offense. With the types of kids we have, I thought that we would be able to play (Potosi’s) passing game and outrun and outjump them for the deep balls. So yes, I did feel pretty comfortable about winning in the end.”
However, it wasn’t meant to be for Milz and the Warriors after Wright caught Fritz’s pass at the goalline in front of Schliem and fellow senior DeeJay Warrell. The officials met briefly to discuss if Wright held onto the ball while going to the ground and crossed the goalline, but after a short time they ruled that it was a touchdown.
Black Hawk (1-1 in SRC and overall) was lucky to even be in the game after turning the ball over to the Chieftains (2-0, 2-0) seven times in their first 11 possessions.
“After watching the film, we didn’t have any business even being in that game. I was disappointed in how we played from a cerebral standpoint. We played very undisciplined defense, did not react to our keys well and didn’t play our responsibilties well. We had too many defenders playing individual defense and not team defense,” noted Milz. “We turned the ball over seven times, and five of them were completely due to lack of focus. Offensively, we were very sloppy in our execution of the running game and I thought in the end, Potosi was in better shape and much stronger than we were.”
Neither team generated much of an offensive attack in the first half as they slugged it out to a 0-0 tie. Potosi gained just 90 yards with one turnover in the first half and never advanced inside the Warrior 14-yard line, while the Warriors managed just 77 total yards, turned it over three times and never got closer than the Chieftain 28.
The Warriors continued to mishandle the ball at the start of the second with two interceptions and a fumble in their first three possessions of the third quarter, including a muffed punt at their own 26-yard line that led to the game’s first score.
Two plays following the fumble, Wright broke free for an 18-yard TD run to put the Chieftains up 6-0.
The Warriors answered late in the third quarter with a six-play, 69-yard scoring match. The drive ended with Meythaler completing a 24-yard bomb to Schliem to tie the game at 6-6. The extra point failed, leaving the score knotted with 30 seconds to play in the third period.
Potosi regained the lead at 9-6 with 8:19 to play when Fritz split the uprights with a 23-yard field goal.
Warrell returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards to the Potosi 28, and an 18-yard run by senior running back Jace Johnsrud moved the Warriors down to the 10. But, another turnover- a fumble- halted the hosts’ drive.
The Chieftains took over at their own 14 with 7:30 remaining and proceeded to pick up four first downs and burn more than five minutes off the clock. On the twelfth play of the drive, the Warriors stripped the ball away from Potosi’s Tom Keene and Michael Walker pounced on the loose ball at the Warrior 8.
Meythaler moved the Warriors down the field with completions to Schliem (17 and four yards), Johnsrud (31) and Walker (25) before hooking up with Schliem for the go-ahead score with :31 to play. Walker’s PAT made the score 13-9.
Potosi began their final drive at their own 29 with 25 ticks left on the clock and got a five-yard gift when the Warriors were flagged for a 12-men-on-the-field penalty, then Fritz– who had missed his previous seven passes– connected with Keene on a 14-yard screen pass and Chase Kruser on a 32-yard strike before finding Wright open for the game-winner.
Fritz completed 8-of-18 passes for 122 yards and a TD along with his field goal and two interceptions on defense.
Keene ran 14 times for 115 yards and he recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass for Potosi, while Kruser caught four passes for 68 yards.
Meythaler completed 12-of-26 passes for 181 yards and two scores along with four interceptions to lead the Warriors. Schliem caught five passes for 70 yards and two scores, while Walker had five catches for 81 yards.
Johnsrud led the ground attack with 101 yards on 14 carries and he added one catch for 31 yards on the night.
Defensively, Colton Piefer led the Warriors with 15 tackles and Cory Rupnow recorded 11 stops and recovered a fumble.
Black Hawk returns to action Friday, Sept. 2, when they head to Bloomington to face River Ridge (0-2). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“They don’t have a choice but to put this game behind them,” stated Coach Milz. “We’ll see what kind of character we have after this and what kind of people our seniors are.”
Potosi……..... 0 0 6 9 - 15
Black Hawk... 0 0 6 7 - 13
P – Wright, 18 run (run failed)
BH – Hayden Schliem, 24 pass from Merik Meythaler (kick failed)
P – Fritz, 23 FG
BH – Schliem, 24 pass from Meythaler (Walker kick)
P – Wright, 20 pass from Fritz (no try)
Team Stats: First Downs- P 15; BH 12. Rushing- P 41-223; BH 24-133. Passing- P 8-18-0, 122; BH 12-26-4, 181. Fumbles-Lost- P 3-2, BH 4-3. Penalties- P 1-11, BH 6-38.
Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)- Jace Johnsrud 14-101-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)- Merik Meythaler 12-26-4-2, 181. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)- Michael Walker, 5-81-0; Hayden Schliem 5-70-2.