SPRING GREEN – Lancaster and River Valley may no longer be conference football rivals, but you wouldn’t have known that from watching last Friday night’s spirited non-conference contest between the Flying Arrows and Blackhawks.
After four intense quarters of hard-hitting action, it all came down to a fourth-down touchdown pass with 22 seconds to play in the contest, followed by a critical two-point conversion play, to give visiting Lancaster a 36-35 non-conference victory.
The two squads battled back and forth, with each team answering the other, accounting for six lead changes and three ties in a game that featured a combined 71 total points and 812 yards of total offense.
Lancaster drew first blood with a 37-yard TD run from junior quarterback Hayden Knapp, followed by an extra-point kick by Isaac Oyen with just over two minutes taken off the first-quarter clock.
River Valley tied the game shortly after on a seven-yard TD pass and an extra-point kick, as the two teams were knotted at 7-7 going into the second quarter.
The Blackhawks took their first lead of the game late in the second quarter on a 14-yard TD run, but the extra-point kick was off the mark, leaving River Valley with a halftime lead of 13-7.
Lancaster fullback Corey Hahn scored the first of his three second-half touchdowns on a one-yard TD plunge with 7:18 to play in the third quarter, and the extra-point kick by Oyen gave Lancaster a slim 14-13 lead.
River Valley responded by taking just one minute off the clock and scoring on a 68-yard TD pass, while also adding a two-point conversion pass to take a 21-14 advantage.
On Lancaster’s very next possession, the Arrows evened up the score again with a 66-yard TD run from Hahn and an extra-point kick from Oyen, as the two teams were knotted at 21-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
On their first possession of the final quarter, Lancaster took an early lead on a five-yard TD run by Hahn and another successful extra-point kick by Oyen, giving the Arrows a 28-21 lead with 8:47 to play in the game.
River Valley responded with a 73-yard TD strike through the air and a successful extra-point kick, tying the game at 28-28 with 7:16 to play.
The Arrows began their ensuing possession on their own 42-yard line followed by a nice kick return by junior Hayden Wagner, and six plays later found themselves at the River Valley 34-yard line with 4:33 showing on the clock.
Faced with a first-and-10 at the Blackhawk’s 34-yard line, a Lancaster fumble was recovered by River Valley’s Will Jewell at the 36-yard line with just over four-minutes to play.
If there was one mistake the Blackhawks made on their next offensive possession though, it was scoring too quickly, as they used just 41 seconds to go 64 yards, scoring on a 51-yard pass play to take a 35-28 lead with 3:52 to play in the game.
The ensuing kick off was returned 26 yards to Lancaster’s 36-yard line by Hahn, setting Lancaster up with a first-and-10 with just under four minutes to operate.
The Arrows used 10 plays to cover 58 yards, and with just 22 seconds to play, were faced with a fourth-and-three from the River Valley six-yard line.
Following a Lancaster timeout, quarterback Hayden Knapp dropped back and found an open Dawson Bowen in the end zone, pulling the Flying Arrows to within 35-34.
Playing for the win and not the tie, Lancaster then came out with their offense after a River Valley timeout, and lined up to go for two.
Knapp took the snap and pitched the ball to Bowen, who then pitched it to Preston Noethe coming around on a reverse. On the run, Noethe then lofted the ball to a wide-open Weston Pink, who secured the catch and the victory for the Flying Arrows.
After taking the ensuing kick off to their own 24-yard line, the Blackhawks were sent backwards on a sack by Ian Martin, but on their next play gained 47 yards on a pass before the final second ran out.
River Valley concluded the night with 334 yards passing and four touchdowns, while gaining 121 yards and one score on the ground.
Lancaster did most of their damage on the ground, where they rushed for 281 yards and four TDs on 50 attempts.
Hahn led the charge with 153 yards and three TDs on 21 carries, while Knapp chipped in 57 yards and one score on 16 attempts, followed by Bowen with 40 yards on 11 carries and Isaac Oyen with two carries for 31 yards.
Through the air, Knapp completed 4-of-5 passing attempts for 76 yards and one score, while Weston Pink had two receptions for 48 yards, as well as the critical two-point conversion catch.
Defensively for the Flying Arrows, junior safety Hayden Wagner had a team-high 7.5 tackles, while senior defensive end Cade Straka had 5.5 stops, including 2.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.
In all, Lancaster had seven sacks, Lukas Howard with 2.5, and Isaiah Place and Ian Martin each with one.
This Friday night the Flying Arrows begin play in the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League with a road game against Darlington (2-0), who is coming off a one-point victory of their own, a 27-26 win over Lake Country Lutheran.