Upon Further Review: Comets persevere in bizarre overtime

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Eric Schmoldt
Sunday, October 23, 2016

Officials goofed Friday during overtime of the WIAA Division 5 football game at Mount Horeb/Barneveld.

WIAA overtime rules call for each team to get one possession, beginning at the opponents' 25-yard line. It's the same procedure you see every week in college football and the one you saw at Camp Randall when the Badgers played Ohio State eight days ago.

But officials in the game between the Vikings and visiting seventh-seeded Delavan-Darien gave the teams the ball at the 10-yard line.

Comets head coach Bret St. Arnauld isn't complaining.

His offense found a way to score on the opening possession of OT. And his defense, which he feels is at its best when backed up against the wall, held strong against Mount Horeb/Barneveld's attempts that began at the 10.

Delavan-Darien held on for a 28-21 victory, just the sixth postseason win in program history.

“It was supposed to be on the 25. I used to coach over in Michigan for a few years, and that's what Michigan does, puts the ball at the 10. But I knew here it was supposed to be the 25,” St. Arnauld said Saturday. “But I'm like, OK. Fortunately, inside the 10 is where my defense is best. It's bend but don't break.”

It probably never should have come to that point anyway.

Delavan-Darien led 21-7 with just five minutes to go in regulation.

Furthermore, Mount Horeb/Barneveld faced a fourth down and threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to cut its deficit to seven points.

After forcing a stop defensively, the Vikings got the ball back and quickly went back to work in the no-huddle offense.

“I typically like to save my timeouts for the final couple minutes,” St. Arnauld said. “But this time we had used them earlier.”

With Delavan-Darien unable to stop the clock—or Mount Horeb/Barneveld—the Vikings scored again in the final minute to force overtime.

“We had dominated that game,” St. Arnauld said. “We got down to the goal line twice and didn't convert, missed a field goal. We, unfortunately, just had a bad stretch with five minutes to go.

“My kids never waver. We always talk about weathering the storm.”

That storm included an overtime and a quirk, but the Comets made it work.

On third-and-goal from the 15, Jake Benzing hit Ben Ingersoll over the middle for a touchdown.

And the Comets defense clamped down, forcing a pair of incompletions and a short run before linebacker Ethan Cesarz got pressure on the quarterback to make sure the final fourth-down play was not converted.

St. Arnauld said his team was confident despite being a No. 7 seed and going on the road. While Lake Geneva Badger coach Matt Hensler said Friday that his team moving up to Division 1 was all talk and no substance, the Comets' transition from playing D1 and D2 teams all season to playing in the D3 bracket clearly played a role.

“We had a holding call against Badger that took a win away from us, a holding call against Wilmot that took a win away … we had three plays in our season that could have changed the outcome,” said St. Arnauld, whose team is now 6-4. “With Waterford, Badger, Wilmot, how fast they get off the ball and what we see in the playoffs, it's night and day. It benefits us. It might not benefit Badger, but it benefits us.”

And the Comets hope those benefits continue.

St. Arnauld has told his team that because it beat the No. 2 seed in the bracket, that it should now consider itself the No. 2 seed.

And while that won't change the fact that the Comets must once again go on the road to third-seeded Pewaukee in the second round, St. Arnauld expects his group to maintain its confidence.

Eric Schmoldt is the sports editor of The Gazette.

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