The Janesville Parker High School junior drilled his first varsity try from 29 yards out with 38 seconds remaining to cap his team’s wild 17-point rally here Friday night. The straight-on kick gave the Vikings the a 17-14 victory over Madison West at Mansfield Stadium.
Despite kicking Parker into sole possession of first place at 3-0 in the Big Eight football race, Knutson didn’t feel like talking about his game-deciding field goal.
“It was a total team effort,” Knutson said before slapping back on his helmet and heading for the locker room.
After seeing Parker cough up three fumbles in its first four plays, which handed West an early 14-0 lead, Knutson and the Vikings could be excused for wanting to get out of town in a hurry.
“There was a little pressure on him,” Parker coach Joe Dye said of Knutson.
Parker’s miscues added to the pressure with five lost fumbles overall.
Chris Bester took the second Parker fumble back for an 11-yard touchdown. The third was recovered by Will Rothschild at the Parker 27, which led to a five-play West drive, capped by Leighton Settle’s 6-yard touchdown run for 14-0 first-quarter lead.
“We don’t like to make it easy,” Dye joked after the game. “Tonight, our defense had our back. We could have quit right there.”
West countered the Parker fumbles with 13 penalties for 120 yards and three turnovers of its own.
After the Regents gained their 14-0 lead, senior quarterback Tyler Teubert started the Parker rally two plays into the ensuing drive with a 53-yard completion to Joe Allen. That set up Adam Vesterfelt’s 14-yard touchdown run.
Vesterfelt added a 3-yard touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game. The sophomore finished with 84 yards on 21 carries.
West put together an eight-play drive midway through the fourth quarter that reached the Parker 29, but back-to-back penalties derailed the Regents’ bid to break the tie.
Parker countered with an 11-play drive, all on the ground, from its 31. That included a 7-yard run by Vesterfeld on fourth-and-one at the West 46.
The drive finally stalled at the West 12, following a quarterback keeper by Teubert on third-and-13 to set up Knutson’s winning kick.
“This was an incredibly disappointing game for us,” West coach Greg Valaskey said. “Parker spotted us the lead with the two lost fumbles, and we gave it right back.”
And that dropped the Regents to 1-2 in a tight Big Eight race, even though Settle had another good night for West in rushing 26 times for 116 yards.
PARKER 17, WEST 14
Janesville Parker 0 7 7 3—17
Madison West 14 0 0 0—14
Scoring summary: MW—Chris Bester, 11 fumble return (Kenneth Doe kick). MW—Leighton Settles, 6 run (Doe kick). JP—Adam Vesterfelt, 14 run (Charles Palan kick). JP—Vesterfelt, 3 run (Palan kick). JP—FG, Creed Knutson, 29.
Statistics: First downs—JP 9, MW 10. Rushing—JP 33-115, MW 44-126. Yards passing—JP 65, MW 30. Passes—JP 9-5-0, MW 12-4-1. Fumbles—JP 5-5, MW 2-2. Penalties—JP 4-35, MW 12-110.