SHULLSBURG – “We’ll remember this one for a while. Games like this is what makes the BSM-Shullsburg rivalry special,” said Benton/Scales Mound head coach Matt Wiederholt.
Wiederholt had just watched his unbeaten Zephyrs cap a miraculous comeback by rallying from 20 points down in the final 15 minutes of play to nip the host Miners, 36-34, in a Six Rivers Conference prep football game at Badger Park on Friday, Sept. 4.
Senior running back Kyle Pulvermacher bulled across the goal line on a 4th-and-goal run from the 3-yard line with 27 seconds remaining to give the Zephyrs (3-0 overall, 2-0 SRC) their first lead of the night, and Zach Stadel picked off a Shullsburg pass on the final play of the game to preserve the come-from-behind victory.
“At this point, I’m kind of speechless. It goes to show the perseverance these guys have gone through over the years. Their hard work and dedication and just their overall stick-to-it-ness– I know that’s not a word, but it’s the truth– showed through tonight,” Wiederholt exclaimed. “I want them to enjoy this experience. They deserve this because they’ve been through a lot over the years.”
After winning just one game over the last two seasons when this year’s experienced seniors and juniors were inexperienced freshman and sophomore, to be 3-0 and able to complete a rally like this was quite a step up for these Zephyrs.
“We have good kids and I’m proud of their performance here tonight. They never gave up. They believed they could win it even when they were down by 20 points in the second half,” added Wiederholt.
The Miners (0-3, 0-3) showed that they would not be intimidated by the high-scoring Zephyrs early on, taking the opening kickoff and marching right down the field on the BSM defense.
Junior Hunter Matye hauled in a 14-yard TD pass from junior Noah Wand to cap the drive, and Oscar Ortiz added the first of four extra point kicks to make it 7-0.
The hosts tacked on a 31-yard TD run by junior Lance Lierman in the first quarter, and then scored on a 40-yard pitch-and-catch between Wand and Nathan Wedige early in the second quarter to extend the lead to 21-0.
The Zephyrs broke through with a 1-yard TD run by senior quarterback Kyle Wienen midway through the second stanza to cut the gap to 21-6, but the Miners added a special teams score late in the first half when Joey Meyer blocked a Zephyr punt into the end zone and Wand jumped on the loose ball to make it 27-6.
Wienen teamed with Jeremiah Bailey on a 25-yard scoring strike to open up the scoring in the third quarter, however the Miners grabbed the momentum right back when Wedige returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a TD to make it 34-14.
Wienen hooked up with Bailey on another TD pass, this time from 19 yards out, to make it 34-22 with 3:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Following a quick Miner punt, the Zephyrs proceeded to march 84 yards on 17 plays to get back within one score. Pulvermacher, who ran 11 times for 59 yards during the drive, scored from a yard out with 5:58 to play to cut the gap to 34-30.
The Zephyrs converted two fourth-and-long plays during the drive with Pulvermacher rushing nine yards on a 4th-and-8 fake punt and Wienen completing a 16-yard pass to (13) on a 4th-and-9 play.
The Zephyr D forced another Shullsburg punt to get the ball back at their own 33 with 3:49 to play, and it turned out it was plenty of time to rally for the win. A 30-yard run by Pulvermacher on second down got BSM into Miner territory, and eight plays later the senior fought into the end zone from 3 yards out to put the Zephyrs on top.
“You have to admire the guys for sticking to it. How often do you win a game after giving up two special teams scores?” asked Wiederholt. “They didn’t score against our defense from the midpoint of the second quarter on, and the offense started moving the ball.”
Pulvermacher, who currently leads the state in rushing with 760 yards, finished the night with 230 yards on 28 carries and his two fourth-quarter TDs. He carried it 16 times for 118 yards on his team’s final two drives.
Wienen completed 8-of-15 passes for 133 yards and two TDs, while rushing 11 times for 53 yards and another score. Bailey hauled in four catches for 71 yards and two scores.
Lierman carried it 15 times for 122 yards and a score for the Miners. Wand went 5-for-19 passing for 92 yards with two TDs and an interception. Wedige hauled in three catches for 73 yards and a TD.
The Zephyrs travel to South Wayne to face Black Hawk (2-1, 2-1) in SRC action on Friday, Sept. 11. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We’ll take it one game at a time. Now, we have to get ready for Black Hawk. They’re going to be a tremendous opponent at home like always,” said Wiederholt.
Benton-SM.... 0 6 16 14 – 36
Shullsburg.... 14 13 7 0 – 34
S – Hunter Matye, 14 pass from Noah Wand (Oscar Ortiz kick)
S – Lance Lierman, 31 run (Ortiz kick)
S – Nate Wedige, 40 pass from Wand (Ortiz kick)
BSM – Kyle Wienen, 1 run (run failed)
S – Wand, recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed)
BSM – Jeremiah Bailey, 25 pass from Wienen (Jalen Phillips pass from Wienen)
S – Nate Wedige, 84 kickoff return (Ortiz kick)
BSM – Bailey, 19 pass from Wienen (Bailey pass from Wienen)
BSM – Kyle Pulvermacher, 1 run (Wienen run)
BSM – Pulvermacher, 3 run (pass failed)
Team Stats: First Downs– BSM 19, S 6. Rushing– BSM 50-316; S 25-149. Passing– BSM 8-15-0, 133; S 5-19-1, 92. Fumbles-Lost– BSM 1-1; S 0-0. Penalties- BSM 2-10; S 4-22.