Both New Berlin Eisenhower and Greendale made their share of big plays on both sides of the ball in their Woodland Conference football game on Friday night. As Greendale’s 27-25 winning margin shows, though, the Panthers made just a few more than the Lions.
“Our kids rose to the occasion,” said Greendale coach Rob Stoltz, whose team improved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the Woodland Conference, tied for the Black Division lead with Whitnall. “Resiliency is a big thing that we preach. We made some plays when we had to.”
Eisenhower coach Jeff Setz could not say the same of his team, which slipped to 1-2 in the Woodland and 2-2 overall.
“We did a lot of good things, just not quite enough,” Setz said. “It seemed we were kind of always working ourselves uphill and just couldn’t make a big play when we had to, although we made some.
“We came up short on a few other plays that we needed to make, whether it was offense, defense or special teams.”
The Lions, which trailed 14-12 at halftime, started the second half with one of their big plays, Nick Taylor’s long kickoff return to the Panthers’ 42-yard line. They scored eight plays later when quarterback John Crowley hit Vince Gabrielsen with an 8-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion run was no good, but Eisenhower enjoyed its first lead of the game at 18-14.
Greendale then drove to the Lions 14, but a holding penalty and a sack took the Panthers out of scoring range, and they punted into the end zone.
Taylor ran twice for 32 yards, taking his team into Greendale territory, but then the Panthers made a huge defensive play by forcing a fumble, which Peter Pekar recovered at the Lions 44.
Mike Scheidt and Sebastian Garcia-Bankowski ran the ball deep into Lions territory and quarterback Sam Brick found Pekar with an 11-yard pass to the 5-yard line. Brick then burst through a hole on the left side for the touchdown, his second rushing score of the game.
The point after was no good, leaving Greendale ahead, 20-18.
After forcing a Lions punt, the Panthers took over on the Eisenhower 47 and scored on Scheidt’s 40-yard sprint down the left sideline. The kick by Brett Nethery gave them a 27-18 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Lions were not done, though, moving 80 yards, most of which came on Crowley’s 71-yard bomb to Taylor. Crowley was hit hard as he released, and the ball was wobbly, but Taylor snared it at about the 35 and took it the rest of the way. Nick Ganzke’s point after made it 27-25, still with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left.
A Greendale punt gave the Lions one more chance with 5:37 remaining. The defense rose up, though, and linebacker Drake Barczak sacked Crowley for a 9-yard loss to the Lions’ 26.
The Lions then tried a trick play on a fake punt, as Mitch Teipner took a pass from Crowley, but his pass was broken up downfield with 3:01 remaining.
Greendale then ran the clock down to five seconds before turning the ball over on downs, and Eisenhower’s long desperation pass from its own five fell short.
The litany of big plays on both sides started in the first half. Garcia-Bankowski’s interception on the Eisenhower 12 set up Brick’s first rushing touchdown from six yards, and later, with Greendale on the Lions’ 34, Brick rolled left, looked to the middle and found Pekar, who took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.
On the Lions’ side, linebacker Matt Pscheid blitzed and sacked Brick, forcing a fumble at the Greendale 43 late in the second period. Wide receiver Dylan Petre then hauled in a 35-yard pass to the eight and a 4-yard touchdown toss that made it 14-12.
Brick completed nine of 16 passes for 132 yards and ran for 69 more for the game.
“He’s a very special athlete,” Stoltz said. “We’ve been very fortunate over the years to have a lot of special athletes at Greendale, and he is a continuation of that.”
Brick, however, spread out the praise to his offensive line.
“The line was fantastic,” he said. “I can’t ask for anything better. We had Jesse Johnston, our right tackle, go down, and we had people step in. I can’t even take any credit (for the offense).”
Pekar had five receptions for 106 yards and Scheidt tallied 118 yards on the ground.
For Eisenhower, Crowley hit 11 of 20 passes for 179 yards and three scores despite dealing with some adversity.
“He missed the last two practices,” Setz said. “He’s had the flu. He also missed a half-day of school. He came out and was a real trooper out there. He was even sick at halftime. We sure have to give him a lot of credit for the heart that he showed here tonight.”