LANCASTER – Following last Friday night’s 50-34 non-conference victory over visiting Nekoosa, coach John Hoch had a little better idea of what his Flying Arrow football team is capable of this season.
After blowing out their first three opponents of the season by an average margin of 47.3 points, coach Hoch was looking forward to Friday night’s contest against a tough and tested Nekoosa program.
As it turned out, his Flying Arrow football team dominated the first half and held a 35-20 halftime lead, only to see the Papermakers score 14 points in the first four minutes and 33 seconds of the second half to make things interesting.
Lancaster responded like true champions do though, by holding Nekoosa scoreless the rest of the way and extending their lead with a TD in the third quarter and another in the fourth.
By the time the final second had ticked off the clock, Lancaster remained unbeaten with a 4-0 record, while Nekoosa went home with a season mark of 3-1.
What the team had proven to their coach was that they could play an entire game, and that they most certainly could respond to adversity.
“We talked about that all week, where things won’t go exactly right, and how will we react,” said coach Hoch. “We were real happy with that mainly.”
The game started off on a big note, as Lancaster fullback Trae Mezera busted lose for a 65-yard touchdown on the game’s very first play. From that point on, Lancaster never trailed, and always had the Papermakers on their heals.
“That was unbelievably important,” said coach Hoch of playing with an early lead. “They made some adjustments on defense to slow us down, then we had to make another adjustment on offense to take advantage of what they were giving us. So it was kind of a chess match that way.”
The chess match continued throughout the entire first half, but with three touchdowns by Lancaster junior Troy Baker, and another one by Mezera, the Arrows held a 35-20 lead at the half.
Baker, who finished with a total of 308 all-purpose yards, scored on runs of three and 11 yards in the first half, and hauled in a 77-yard TD pass from Kile Jerrett on a half-back option reverse pass that was run to perfection.
Mezera scored on a 44-yard TD run with 4:18 to play in the half, and finished the night with 130 yards and two TDs on 10 carries.
On their opening possession of the third quarter, Nekoosa used four plays to go 59 yards, and pulled to within 35-28 with only 1:23 taken off the clock.
Following the ensuing kick off, Lancaster fumbled the ball on their first play of the second half, giving it back to the Papermakers at the 28-yard line.
Nekoosa used seven plays to put the ball in the end zone, but a missed extra-point kick left the score 35-34 with 7:27 to play in the game.
It didn’t take long for the Arrows to answer, as they methodically marched down the field on a 13-play drive that covered 69 yards and took over six minutes off the clock.
The drive came to a conclusion with a two-yard TD plunge by quarterback Justin Hore. Hunter Budack’s extra-point kick gave Lancaster a 42-34 lead with 45.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Forcing the Papermakers to punt on their very next possession, the Arrows put the final nail in the coffin when Hore connected with a wide-open Troy Baker for a 58-yard score. The fake kick and two-point conversion pass from Hore to Matt Ihm, made the score 50-34 with 11:30 to play in the game.
Following a punt by Nekoosa and a fumble by Lancaster, the game was essentially sealed when Lancaster senior Wes Schnepper came up with a big interception at midfield with 4:18 showing on the clock.
Lancaster finished with 527 yards of total offense, 366 on the ground and 161 through the air. Nekoosa managed 323 yards rushing and 45 through the air for a total of 365.
Mezera led the ground attack with his 130 yards, while Hore added 108 rushing yards on 21 attempts.
Troy Baker, who touched the ball 18 times, accounted for 308 total yards and scored four touchdowns in the game. He had 11 rushing attempts for 93 yards and two scores, along with three receptions for 147 yards and two more scores. He also had four kick returns for 68 yards for an average of 17 yards per return.
Hore completed 4-of-7 passing attempts for 84 yards and one TD, while Kile Jerrett completed 1-of-2 passing attempts for a 77 yard score.
“I think our offensive line did an outstanding job of taking care of some things,” said coach Hoch. I was very pleased as a group with our pass defense. They go hand-in-hand, the pressure, and the idea of covering guys.”
Leading the Flying Arrow defense in tackles Friday night was none other than sophomore linebacker Mitchell Schildgen, who had 5.5 tackles.
Also finishing the game with 5.5 tackles was junior safety A.J. Day, while junior linebacker Ryan Heberlein was in on 4.5 stops and had two of his team’s four sacks.
This Friday night the Arrows kick off play in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference, by traveling to River Valley (2-2), who is coming off a 56-27 loss to Wautoma.
Lancaster 50, Nekoosa 34
(from Friday, Sept. 9)
Nekoosa 7 13 14 0 - 34
Lancaster 21 14 7 8 - 50
L - Trae Mezera, 65-yard run (Hunter Budack kick)
L - Troy Baker, 3-yard run (Budack kick)
N - D. Baker, 16-yard run (Reichert kick)
L - Baker, 77-yard pass from Kile Jerrett (Budack kick)
N - Jasin, 31-yard pass from D. Baker (Reichert kick)
L - Baker, 11-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Mezera, 44-yard run (Budack kick)
N - Kukulka, 6-yard run (kick failed)
N - Kukulka, 1-yard run (Kukulka pass from D. Baker)
N - Kukulka, 2-yard run (kick failed)
L - Hore, 2-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Baker, 58-yard pass from Hore (Budack kick)
First downs - N 14, L 16. Rushing - N 47-323, L 48-366. Passing yards - N 45, L 161. Passes - N 2-7-1, L 5-9-0. Fumbles lost - N 3-1, L 3-2. Penalties-yards - N 6-60, L 5-45.
Rushing - N: CodeyYsquiredo 13-189, Austin Kukulka 16-82; L: Trae Mezera 10-130, Hore 21-108, Troy Baker 11-93. Passing - N: Derek Baker 2-7-1, 45; L: Justin Hore 4-8-0, 84. Receiving - N: Zach Jasin 2-45; L: Baker 3-147.