Penalty helps Big Foot advance in playoffs
That’s the startling question Walworth Big Foot High School coach Rodney Wedig pondered after the Huskies’ big mistake helped the Chiefs’ hold on for a thrilling victory over New Holstein.
With Huskies trailing by seven and ready to receive a punt, New Holstein inexplicably jumped off sides and extended the Chiefs’ drive.
That was all Big Foot needed to run the clock down and hold onto a 42-35 victory in WIAA Division 4 Level 3 nail-bitter here Saturday afternoon.
Mason Dixon and Kenneth Walker each scored two touchdowns, while the Chiefs’ defense withstood three second-half turnovers to help Big Foot (10-2) sneak into the WIAA Division 4 semifinal.
Big Foot faces Brodhead-Juda next Friday or Saturday at Middleton High School.
But a second consecutive trip to the semifinals of the playoffs seemed secondary to Wedig, who needed a little good fortune to withstand the Huskies’ fierce comeback charge.
“That play (offsides) was huge because we got to run the clock down,” Wedig said. “If they (New Holstein) got the ball back with us only up a touchdown, who knows,” Wedig said.
That question will certainly haunt New Holstein for a long time.
“We didn’t have a block setup for that play, we just jumped offsides,” New Holstein running back Cody Thede said. “That just killed everything.”
The Chiefs went on to run 11 more plays and melt down the clock to 1:07 before turning the ball over on downs at the New Holstein 9.
The Huskies failed to mount a drive from there and watched their season end on downs at the Chiefs’ 11 with 22 seconds left.
“We sure wanted to make it interesting,” Wedig joked.
New Holstein had the same aspirations in the second half.
After the Huskies defense recovered a Jordan Gottman fumble at the Big Foot 26, New Holstein took advantage of a sure interception that slipped threw Big Foot defensive back Carter Hehr’s hands and into the arms of Brett Boettcher for a 10-yard touchdown catch early in the third. That made it 28-14 Big Foot.
On the ensuing drive, Cash nabbed a Jake Wedig pass for a 22-yard interception that trimmed the lead to 28-21.
With the Big Foot crowd in stunned silence, Gottman responded with a 41-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation that rebuilt the lead to 35-21 with 4:43 left in the third.
After both teams exchanged touchdown runs, Thede trimmed the deficit back to seven with an 18-yard touchdown fumble return with 7:37 left in the game.
New Holstein slammed the door on the Chiefs’ running attack on the ensuing possession, giving the visitors a chance to tie.
But an offside penalty on the punt sealed the Huskies’ fate.
“We worked on going into a three-point stance on the punt to give them something different to look at,” Wedig said.
The Huskies’ had already seen enough in the first half.
Wedig fired touchdown passes of 82 and 27 yards, respectively to Michael Kunes and Walker, while Dixon and Walker each tallied a touchdown run to give the Big Foot a 28-0 lead late in the second quarter.
The Huskies later responded with Cash’s 6-yard touchdown scramble to cut the deficit to 28-7 at halftime. New Holstein then rode the wave of momentum into a huge second half that just fell short.