BLANCHARDVILLE – The fight for the Six Rivers Conference football championship came down to the final play of the final game of the regular season.
Pecatonica/Argyle secured sole possession of the conference crown on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by senior running back Colin Argue on the Vikings’ first possession in overtime to slip past Shullsburg, 12-6, in their Six Rivers’ finale at McKellar Park in Blanchardville on Friday, Oct. 14.
The Vikings (9-0 overall, 8-0 SRC) scored the tying touchdown with a minute to go in regulation to force overtime and then won it on Argue’s 3rd-and-goal run to deny the Miners (8-2, 6-2) a share of their first league title since 1990. Shullsburg finished in a three-way tie for second-place in the Six Rivers with Black Hawk and Highland.
“It was a hard-hitting game. Both teams came with their A games. It was just an outstanding effort by my guys. I thought our kids played with tremendous heart,” said Shullsburg head coach Scott Matye. “I did not think we’d hold Pec to just six points (in regulation) but we did a great job, especially in the defensive secondary. Offensively, we were close (to breaking it open) several times. In a game like this, a play or even an inch can decide it. That what it came down to.”
The Miners took the lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the second quarter when senior running back Ben Sigwarth hauled in a middle screen pass from senior quarterback Noah Wand at the Shullsburg 32-yard line and raced 68 yards into the end zone to put the guests on the board. The extra point kick fell short, leaving the score at 6-0.
And, that’s where the lead stood until late in the fourth quarter as the two top defenses in the Six Rivers did all they could to stop the league’s two top offenses.
“They tried to take away our strengths and we obviously tried to take away their strengths. They made it tough on runners and double-teamed (Miner all-conference receiver) Hunter Matye, and we limited their passes and limited the touches by (Viking all-conference receiver) A.J. Hendrickson,” admitted Matye.
Each team missed a scoring opportunity early in the second half– the Vikings on a missed field goal and the Miners on a turnover on downs at the PA 20– and each team threw an interception near the others’ goal line early in the fourth quarter to keep the 6-0 score in place.
After Cory Linder’s interception at the Shullsburg 2, the Miners forced the Vikings to punt out of their own end zone, but a muff on the catch turned the ball back over to the hosts at midfield.
Smelling blood in the water, the Vikings marched down into scoring position until an interception by Miners’ senior Jeremiah Bailey in the end zone thwarted the drive.
Shullsburg punted the ball back to PA with under five minutes to play in regular, and then the Miners’ D stuffed the Vikings inches shy of a first down on a 4th-and-3 run at the PA 39 with 3:29 remaining to preserve their slim lead.
Unfortunately, their next drive went nowhere and they were forced to punt the ball back to the Vikings with 1:31 to go.
That proved to be more than enough time for the Vikings to come up with the winning score. After a penalty to open the drive, senior quarterback Logan Green completed a short pass to Hendrickson at the PA 20 and he quickly tossed the ball back to Argue, who broke several tackles before breaking free and racing 86 yards on the hook-and-ladder play for the game-tying TD.
Hendrickson’s PAT sailed wide left, leaving the score at 6-6 with exactly one minute remaining.
Shullsburg drove from their own 35 to the Vikings’ 30 with time running out, but a 47-yard field goal attempt by Matye on the final play of regulation fell well short sending the game into overtime.
The Miners got the ball first in OT starting from the 25-yard line, however their drive stalled on a fourth-down QB sack of Wand.
On their turn from the 25, the Vikings picked up an early first down on a 12-yard run by Linder, and then they moved to the ball inside the 1 on a 9-yard run by Cameron Treuthardt on a 3rd-and-7 tote. After getting stopped at the goal line on first and second down by the Miners, Argue burrowed into the end zone on third down to hand the Vikings a 12-6 victory and sole possession of the conference crown.
The Vikings outgained the Miners on the ground, 165 to 102, while the Miners led the way through the air, 188 to 178, as just a few yards separated the two teams for the game.
Wand completed 8-of-17 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Sigwarth led the team in rushing with 59 yards on 16 carries and receiving with 89 yards on three catches with a score.
Senior Nate Wedige added three catches for 68 yards, while senior Lance Lierman– Shullsburg’s leading rusher coming into the night– was limited to 30 yards on 15 carries.
Truethardt rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries, while Argue ran 24 times for 76 yards with a TD and had four catches for a team-high 95 yards with another score. Green was 7-of-17 passing for 137 yards with a TD and two picks.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Oren Charles led the Miners with 16 tackles and Bailey swiped a pair of passes in the game. Senior Chris Trejo recorded 13 tackles, Matye was in on 13 stops and senior Alan Montanye added 11 tackles, while senior Joey Meyer registered a sack.
Shullsburg won’t take a lot of time to dwell on Friday’s tough loss since the post-season begins this Friday. The Miners were seeded second in their regional bracket and will host Six Rivers rival Potosi (5-5) at Badger Park on Friday, Oct. 21, in a WIAA Division 7 Level 1 contest.
“I think we have a great chance to go far in the playoffs. We’re still a very good team and we’re still very healthy (after Friday’s game). We have a tremendous opportunity to do very well in the tournament,” commented Matye, whose Miners defeated the Chieftains, 34-6, back on Sept. 9. “I think rematches are always hard because we know each other very well. Potosi will come ready to play and be a great opponent.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Shullsburg… 0 6 0 0 0 – 6
Pec-Argyle… 0 0 0 6 6 – 12
SH– Ben Sigwarth, 68 pass from Noah Wand (kick failed)
PA– Argue, 86 pass from Green (kick failed)
PA– Argue, 1 run (no try)
Team Stats: First Downs– S 11; PA 15. Rushing– S 41-102; PA 44-165. Passing– S 8-17-1, 188; PA 8-18-2, 178. Fumbles-Lost– S 2-1; PA 0-0. Penalties– S 7-84; PA 9-61.
Shullsburg Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Ben Sigwarth, 16-59-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Noah Wand, 8-17-1-1, 188. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Sigwarth, 3-89-1.