LANCASTER – On a night when the offense had a hard time moving the ball, it was again the Lancaster defense that lead the team to victory in last Saturday evening’s division 5 state quarterfinal contest against visiting Racine St. Catherine’s.
The Flying Arrows kept their state championship hopes alive with a 21-0 victory over the Angels, and improved to 12-0 on the year heading into Friday night’s state semifinal.
Coach John Hoch’s squad will next take on Kewaunee (11-1) on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Brookfield Central High School. The Storm are coming off a 47-12 victory over Cedar Grove-Belgium.
Against Racine St. Catherine’s, who averaged 253.2 yards rushing, and 41.8 points per game, the Arrow defense certainly rose to the occasion.
Held scoreless for four quarters, the Angels managed just 87 yards rushing on 40 attempts, and completed 1-of-10 passing attempts for just seven yards.
That’s a total of just 94 yards of offense on 50 plays, or an average of 1.8 yards per play.
“The defense played exceptionally well again,” said coach John Hoch. “Surprisingly well you might say.”
“The coaching staff is doing a great job of finding tendencies, and even though we don’t have one guy making all the tackles, we do have 11 guys doing their job, and doing it well.”
In the first half though, it didn’t look as if Lancaster was doing much better offensively.
On 16 offensive plays in the first half, the Arrows managed just 27 total yards, rushing for -2 yards on nine attempts.
Junior quarterback Nate Tranel rushed five times for -10 yards, while fullback Tyler Glass had two carries for seven yards, and wingback Brett Snider two carries for one yard.
Lancaster gained just one first down, and was 0-for-4 on third-down conversions in the first 24 minutes of action.
“They were one of the more athletic front lines that we’ve faced this year,” said Hoch of St. Catherine’s.
The Arrows had only two big offensive plays in the first half, one being a 14-yard touchdown pass from Snider to Hunter Budack, and the other a 19-yard pass play from Tranel to Snider, also in the second quarter.
But, it was Lancaster’s defense that set up the only score of the first half.
While defensive end Lucas Vincent forced a fumble when trying to take down quarterback Justin Stafford, it was Lancaster’s other defensive end, Phil Zenz, who scooped up the ball and ran 43 yards to the Angel’s 14-yard line before being tackled.
“When Lucas stripped the ball away and Phil recovered it, that gave us a big boost, which was something we needed at that point,” Hoch said.
On the very next offensive play, a halfback-option pass thrown by Snider, was hauled in by Budack in the end zone with 11:41 to play in the second quarter.
Budack added on the extra-point kick for a 7-0 Lancaster lead.
While the Lancaster defense continued to keep their opponent at bay in the second half, Lancaster got two rushing touchdowns from Tranel.
The junior quarterback scored on a 28-yard run with 1:27 to play in the third quarter by spinning out of a tackle and rumbling into the end zone.
Budack’s extra-point kick made the score 14-0 going into the fourth quarter, and capped off a three-play drive that covered 37 yards
Then, with 5:39 to play in the fourth, Tranel scored on a 14-yard TD run, plowing over an Angel defender in his way.
Budack’s extra-point kick gave Lancaster more breathing room at 21-0, and capped off a three-play drive that covered 30 yards.
Following a dismal first-half by the Lancaster offense, Tranel finished the game with a team-high 48 yards rushing and two TDs on a team-high 18 carries, while Glass had 30 yards on seven carries, and Snider 25 yards on seven carries as well.
As a team, the Arrows finished wit 165 yards of total offense on 42 plays, an average of 3.9 yards per play.
On 32 rushing attempts, the Arrows ran for a season-low 103 yards, while Tranel completed 3-of-8 passing attempts for 48 yards.
Racine St. Catherine’s running back Sean Madden, finished the game with 70 yards and no touchdowns on 31 carries, after rushing for a total of 528 yards and eight touchdowns on 61 carries in his first two playoff games.
Leading Lancaster’s defense with seven tackles each were Trenton Cornell and Andy Ryan. Alex Withey was in on six stops, while Phil Zenz, Lucas Vincent and Mitchell Schildgen each had four.
Not to be forgotten was the outstanding punting of Snider, who on a number of times got Lancaster out of a troublesome spot with a booming kick.
On six punts, Snider averaged 38.8 yards per punt on one of the windiest games in years, and had a long of 45 yards, with three landing inside the 20-yard line.
The Arrows will now be playing for the program’s tenth state WIAA championship appearance, but will have to get by Kewanee this Friday night.
The Storm come into the game averaging 37.9 points per game and 175.5 yards rushing, as well as 163.1 yards passing per game.
The Storm’s only loss of the season was a 35-0 final at Roncalli, who plays Platteville this Friday night in a division 4 state semifinal contest at Watertown.
Racine St. Catherine’s 0
(WIAA Division 5 Level 3 Playoff game from Saturday, Nov. 9, at Lancaster)
St. Catherine’s 0 0 0 0 - 0
Lancaster 0 7 7 7 - 21
L - Hunter Budack, 14-yard pass from Brett Snider (Budack kick)
L - Tranel, 28-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Tranel, 14-yard run (Budack kick)
First downs - RSC 6, L 9. Rushing - RSC 40-87, L 32-103. Passing yards - RSC 7, L 62. Passes - RSC 1-10-0, L 4-10-0. Fumbles-lost - RSC 1-1, L 0-0. Penalties-yards - RSC 2-19, L 5-39.
RSC: Sean Madden 31-70, Earnest Cobb 3-30. L: Nate Tranel 18-48, Tyler Glass 7-30, Brett Snider 7-25.
RSC: Justin Stafford 1-10-0, 7. L: Nate Tranel 3-8-0, 48, Snider 1-2-0, 14.
RSC: Jersey Eickorst 1-7. L: Hunter Budack 3-43, Brett Snider 1-19.