PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – In the words of the recently departed Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Those words rang especially true last Friday night in a Southwest Wisconsin Conference football battle, where visiting Lancaster held a 14-point lead over host Prairie du Chien with just 3:14 to play in the game.
The Blackhawks though strung together a series of unfortunate events in the final minutes of the contest, that led to an improbable 44-43 Lancaster loss.
Both teams entered Friday night’s contest with identical conference records of 3-0, and were playing for a share of the conference title.
Even with last Friday night’s loss, the Flying Arrows (3-1, 4-4) still have a chance at a share of the conference title with a win over Platteville (2-2, 3-5) this Friday night and a Prairie du Chien (4-0, 6-2) loss to River Valley (3-1, 7-1).
Last Friday night’s SWC contest was a battle between the Prairie du Chien passing attack, and the running game of the Flying Arrows.
Lancaster ran for a total of 256 yards on 39 attempts for an average of 6.6 yards per attempt.
Senior fullback Nic Wood led the charge with 210 yards and four touchdowns on 25 attempts, while junior Tanner Reuter had 44 yards on seven carries.
Prairie du Chien did the majority of their damage through the air, where they completed 16-of-29 passing attempts for 338 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Prairie quarterback Brogan Potter threw completions to nine different receivers, forcing the Flying Arrows to defend every part of the field.
The Blackhawks ran 20 more plays (48-68) than the Arrows and had the ball 10 minutes longer (18:45-28:55), which accounted for their 483 total yards of offense to Lancaster’s 312.
The Blackhawk’s held a 7-0 lead after one quarter of play before the Flying Arrows exploded for 29 points in the second quarter.
Wood scored on runs of one, 31 and 52 yards, while sophomore Garrett Birkett found the end zone on a 76-yard kick return.
Birkett played a major role in Lancaster’s battle for field position, and averaged 47 yards on three kick returns with a long of 76 yards.
At the half, Lancaster held a slim led of 29-26, and a scoreless third quarter kept the score the same going into the fourth.
In the final quarter of play, Prairie du Chien tied the score with 7:40 to play in the game on a 29-yard field goal.
On their very next possession, the Flying Arrows drove the ball downfield and were faced with a fourth-and-four at the Prairie du Chien nine-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs with an incomplete pass attempt.
On first-and-10 from their own nine-yard line, the Blackhawks were whistled for holding on first down, setting them up at their own three-yard-line.
The Blackhawks then made an ill-fated attempt to run a screen pass out of their own end zone, as Lancaster junior Justin Allen intercepted the pass in the end zone for a Lancaster score.
The extra-point kick by freshman kicker Tanner Oyen gave Lancaster a 36-29 advantage with just 4;38 to play in the game.
Allen would make one more defensive play for the Arrows by recovering a miss-handled snap by Prairie du Chien punter Brogan Potter on the Blackhawk’s eight-yard line.
It took Lancaster just one play, a run by Nic Wood, to find the end zone once more. Oyen’s extra-point kick now gave Lancaster a 43-29 lead with just 3:14 showing on the clock.
Prairie’s prayers were answered though on the ensuing kick off, as Casey Hogenson raced 83 yards untouched up the middle of the field for the score, taking just 12 seconds off the clock and pulling Prairie to within 43-36.
Expecting an onside kick, Lancaster had its hands team on the field, but somehow the Blackhawks recovered the dribbler at the Lancaster 48-yard line with 3:02 to play in the game.
It took seven plays for the Blackhawks to find the end zone, scoring on a one-yard TD plunge with 59 seconds showing on the clock.
Trailing Lancaster, 43-42, Prairie du Chien made the decision to avoid overtime, and drew up a two-point conversion play.
Coming in motion from the other side of the field, Prairie’s Peyton Hall then ran past two Lancaster defenders to receive a wide-open pass in the end zone for a 44-43 lead.
Lancaster started their next possession at their own 40-yard line with a nice return from junior Tanner Reuter, and on first down, Wood picked up 31 yards on a straight hand off from quarterback Drew Reuter.
On first down from the Prairie du Chien 41-yard line, Drew Reuter hit sophomore John Wagner for no gain, then was sacked for an 11-yard loss on the next play.
Lancaster’s pass attempt on third-and-21 fell incomplete, and on fourth-and-21, Wood picked up just two yards on a run play up the middle.
Prairie took over possession with 16 seconds showing on the clock, which they ran out to collect the win.
Through the air, Reuter completed 2-of-9 passing attempt for 56 yards, while John Wagner had one catch for 48 yards, and Wood one for eight yards.
Defensively, Lancaster was led in tackles by senior cornerback John Giesen, who had 11 tackles, nine solo. Senior linebacker Joey Recker was in on seven stops, while Birkett had 5.5 tackles.
Lancaster concludes the regular season this Friday night at Platteville (2-2, 3-5). The Hillmen are coming off a 27-19 victory over Dodgeville.
Prairie du Chien 44,
(from Friday, Oct. 9)
Lancaster 0 29 0 14 - 43
PdC 7 19 0 18 - 44
PdC - Casey Hogenson, 31-yard pass from Dylan Yeoman (Cory Check kick)
L - Nic Wood, 1-yard run (run failed)
PdC - Dominic Wright, 7-yard run (Check kick)
L - Garrett Birkett, 76-yard kick return (John Wagner pass from Drew Reuter)
PdC - Peyton Hall, 8-yard run (pass failed)
L - Nic Wood, 31-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
PdC - Casey Hogenson, 18-yard pass from Brogan Potter (pass failed)
L - Nic Wood, 52-yard run (Wood run)
PdC - Check, 29-yard field goal
L - Justin Allen, interception in end zone (Oyen kick)
L - Nic Wood, 8-yard run (Oyen kick)
PdC - Casey Hogenson, 83-yard kick return (Check kick)
PdC - Dominic Wright, 1-yard run (Peyton Hall pass frm Brogan Potter)
First downs - L 13, PdC 23. Rushing - L 39-256, PdC 39-145. Passing yards - L 56, PdC 338. Passes - L 2-9-0, PdC 16-29-1. Fumbles-lost - L 1-0, PdC 0-0. Penalties-yards - L 11-100, PdC 14-115.
L: Nic Wood 25-210, Tanner Reuter 7-44, Drew Reuter 7-2.
PdC: Peyton hall 15-90, Dylan Yeoman 12-52, Dominic Wright 8-28, Brogan Potter 4-(-25).
L: Drew Reuter 2-9-0, 56.
PdC: Brogan Potter 15-28-1, 307.
L: John Wagner 1-48, Nic Wood 1-8.
PdC: Casey Hogenson 6-107, Cody Cauffman 1-50, Dylan Yeoman 1-49, Drew Scott 3-43, Jacob Mallet 1-34, Peyton hall 1-23, Chad Mara 1-18, Hunter Sheckler 1-16, Dominic Wright 1-(-2).