PLATTEVILLE – It’s been a tough couple of weeks for head coach John Hoch and his Lancaster varsity football team, who won its first three conference games of the season, only to lose the last two by a combined three points.
Following their 44-43 loss to Prairie du Chien a week earlier, the Flying Arrows suffered a 28-26 loss to Platteville last Friday night, leaving them with a league record of 3-2 at the conclusion of the regular season.
Still, the Flying Arrows had a chance at grabbing a share of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title last Friday night, thanks to River Valley’s 26-14 victory over Prairie du Chien, which left both teams with league marks of 4-1.
“Our hope (at the beginning of the year) was to get to 3-2,” said John Hoch. “All of a sudden we’re 3-0 and looking at potentially a chance at sharing the conference. We still could have had it even going into the last game if we take care of our side. We would have had a share of the conference, which would have been outstanding for our kids.”
While Lancaster dropped to 3-2 going into the playoffs, Platteville used Friday night’s win to improve to 3-2 and earn a playoff bid as the No. 8 seed in their Division 4 bracket.
On what ended up being a disappointing night for Flying Arrow fans, history was made by senior fullback Nic Wood, whom I would argue is the best running back in the storied history of the Lancaster football program.
Wood set three new school records Friday night with 349 rushing yards on 39 attempts. The previous single-game rushing record was 319 yards set by Trevor Landon in 2008, while Landon (2008) and Derek Knapp (1997) shared the previous record for most rushing attempts in a single-game with 38.
Wood also had 384 all-purpose yards last Friday night with a 35-yard catch, beating the previous mark of 351 all-purpose yards set by Tyler Whitish in 2009.
Since taking over the starting fullback spot, Wood has rushed for 1,358 yards and 17 touchdowns in six games. During that time he has averaged 226 yards per game, and nearly 8.4 yards per carry, most everything coming after contact.
In his first three games this season at wingback, Wood rushed for a total of 114 yards on 13 carries and no touchdowns.
“The way he’s played the last five games, he is one of the best that we’ve had,” said Hoch of Wood. “He’s taken the team on his shoulders and he’s staying healthy, knock on Wood, or knock on Nic Wood, whatever you want to say.”
“When he gets into the open field, he’s magical,” Hoch added.
Wood found the end zone three times last Friday night, scoring on runs of 17, 67 and one yard.
His third score came with 8:21 to play in the game, and pulled Lancaster to within 21-19 of the host Hillmen.
The Lancaster defense followed with a critical three-and-out, forcing the Hillmen to punt from their own 47-yard line, which was downed at Lancaster’s 21.
After the first three plays netted a combined three yards for the Flying Arrows, coach Hoch rolled the dice on fourth-and-seven from his own 24-yard line with 5:03 to play in the game and all three timeouts at his disposal.
Unfortunately, a run to Wood was stopped for no gain by the Hillmen defense, who took possession at Lancaster’s 24-yard line with 4:54 showing on the clock.
It took just one play for the Hillmen to find the end zone on an end-around reverse, giving Platteville a 28-19 lead.
Lancaster’s next offensive possession ended at the Hillmen 42-yard line when a fourth-and-five pass attempt fell incomplete with 3:06 to play in the game.
Back-to-back offensive holding penalties on the Hillmen backed them up to their own 30-yard line.
After using their last two timeouts, the Flying Arrow defense forced a Platteville punt, which went out of bounds at their own 42-yard line with 1:53 to play in the game.
On the very next play, Wood took the hand off straight up the middle for a 41-yard gain, then plunged into the end zone on the next play with 1:40 showing on the clock. The extra-point kick by freshman Tanner Oyen made the score 28-26.
With Lancaster having no more timeouts, the Hillmen ran out the clock on three plays, the last being a kneel down, to conserve the two-point win.
On the night, Lancaster finished with 416 yards rushing on 57 attempts, as quarterback Drew Reuter managed 71 yard and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Through the air, Reuter completed 8-of-12 passing attempts for 65 yards, while fellow junior Tanner Reuter hauled in five passes for 18 yards.
The Arrows were playing from behind the entire night, after Platteville scored on their first possession of the game, then scooped up a Lancaster fumble on the Arrows’ second offensive play of the game, and score on a 26-yard return.
“It appeared that they had a little more fire to start out the game than we did,” said coach Hoch of Platteville. “We didn’t come ready, and then once we did wake up we played pretty good football.”
“We left some points out there, but it was just a good game. I think we’re pretty evenly balanced with them,” Hoch added.
Now the Flying Arrows will focus on the playoffs, where they will travel to Westby (7-2) this Friday night. Lancaster is a No. 6 seed in their division 5 playoff bracket, while Westby is the third seed.
The top seed in the bracket belongs to Spencer/Columbus Catholic (9-0), while Stratford (7-2) is the two seed.
Platteville 28, Lancaster 26
(from Friday, Oct. 16)
Lancaster 0 6 6 14 - 26
Platteville 14 7 0 7 - 28
P - Luke Fugate, 18-yard run (Zach White kick)
P - Mitch Knockel, 26-yard fumble return (White kick)
L - Nic Wood, 17-yard run (kick failed)
P - Jason Withrow, 31-yard run (White kick)
L - Drew Reuter, 4-yard run (pass failed)
L - Nic Wood, 67-yard run (Tanner Oyen kick)
P - Donovan Blevins, 24-yard run (White kick)
L - Nic Wood, 1-yard run (Oyen kick)
First downs - L 23, P 16. Rushing - L 57-416, P 41-240. Passing yards - L 65, P 76. Passes - L 8-12-0, P 8-15.0 Fumbles-lost - L 3-2 P 2-1. Penalties-yards - L 7-55, P 8-70.
L: Nic Wood 39-349, Drew Reuter 14-71, Josh Hentrich 1-1, John Wagner 1-1, Tanner Reuter 2-(-6).
P: Luke Fugate 29-151, Donovan Blevins 3-48, Jason Withrow 7-44, Cody Schambow 2-(-3).
L: Drew Reuter 8-12-0, 65.
P: Cody Schambow 8-13-0, 76.
L: Tanner Reuter 5-18, Josh Hentrich 2-12, Nic Wood 1-35.
P: Jason Withrow 6-50, Donovan Blevins 2-26.