Delavan-Darien disrupts Evansville playoff hopes
Along with a stingy defense, the Delavan-Darien quarterback spearheaded the Comets’ 16-6 victory over the Blue Devils in the first round of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs.
Delavan-Darien (6-4) advances to play Reedsburg (7-3) on Saturday after the Beavers rolled over Wisconsin Dells, 49-14.
“We’re a good team when we play together,” Gonzalez said after Delavan-Darien’s second-ever playoff win.
All phases were working for the Comets against Evansville (8-2), as Gonzalez disrupted the Blue Devils by running and passing out of the spread offense. The 5-11, 185-pound senior ran for 117 yards on 18 carries and threw for 104 yards by completing seven of 16 passes, including a 7-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Gonzalez faked running the quarterback keeper into the line before lofting a pass over the Evansville defense to Aaron Logterman for the 6-0 lead in the second quarter.
“We just put that play in this week, so that was the first time we ran it,” Delavan-Darien coach Steve Tenhagen said.
“We run a lot of quarterback keepers, so we try and make them think it’s a run play and we dump it right over the top to the tight end. We executed exactly how it is drawn up.”
“They come up expecting the run, and we were running the ball well, so we knew it was going to be open,” he said.
Gonzalez also connected with Logterman on the final drive of the first half. The play covered 28 yards to set up Nathan Boltz for a 37-yard field goal as time expired, making it 9-0 at halftime.
Evansville tried to rally after a 41-yard Cody Thompson kickoff return to open the second half. But the drive stalled at the Comets’ 4-yard line, and Eric Polzin’s 22-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left.
The frustration mounted in the fourth quarter as Kyle Ball snatched an interception in midair after Evansville’s Taylor Koch had a pass in the flat bounce off his foot into Ball’s hands. The Delavan-Darien defensive end then rumbled 40 yards for a touchdown and a 16-0 lead with 7:52 remaining.
“Our defense played a phenomenal football game,” Tenhagen said. “We didn’t open it up offensively because we were playing with the lead and we were having success running the ball.”
Evansville’s Andrew Keister tried to match Gonzalez by rushing for 124 yards on 11 carries and passing for 77 of his 152 yards in the final eight minutes. The senior standout brought the Blue Devils within 16-6 with a 43-second drive, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Thompson. But his two-point conversion pass failed, and that was the end of the scoring.
Evansville got the ball back with 1:09 left, but Keister’s final 28-yard pass to Koch ended at the Delavan-Darien 9 as time expired.
“We played physical football tonight,” Tenhagen said. “We might have been giving up a little size to them, but this may have been the hardest game that we’ve played, in terms of effort, for four quarters.”
DELAVAN-DARIEN 16, EVANSVILLE 6
Delavan-Darien 0 9 0 7—16
Evansville 0 0 0 6—6
Scoring summary: DD—Aaron Logterman, 7 pass from Michael Gonzalez (kick failed). DD—FG, Nathan Boltz, 37. DD—Kyle Ball, 40 interception return (Boltz kick). E—Cody Thompson, 24 pass from Andrew Keister (pass failed).
Statistics: First downs—DD 14, E 16. Rushing—DD 38-179, E 31-193. Yards passing—DD 104, E 152. Passes—DD 16-7-0, E 31-14-3. Fumbles—DD 1-1, E 0-0. Penalties—DD 5-50, E 3-20.
Game at a Glance
The play: Defensive end Kyle Ball’s interception and 40-yard touchdown return gave Delavan-Darien the 16-0 cushion it needed to upend Evansville.
The player: Delavan-Darien quarterback Michael Gonzalez ran for 131 yards out of spread offense and passed for 103 yards to account for 234 of the Comets’ 301 yards.
The quote: “It’s the playoffs. It doesn’t matter what those records are. It was just a hard-fought game, and I’m just so proud of our kids’ effort, every single one of them out there.” —Delavan-Darien coach Steve Tenhagen.