Pewaukee almost finds a way
They can be the most perplexing 23 feet and 4 inches anywhere on the football field. Some teams don't even bother with them.
When Matt Fritchen's extra-point attempt with 1 minute, 22 seconds left to play sailed wide of that expanse between the posts Friday, it left the Pewaukee football team facing a cruel 14-13 defeat at the hands of host Waterford. The Pirates overcame a lethargic first half and caught a late break to pull within a point, but the Wolverines atoned for a 17-0 loss at the hands of Pewaukee to open the 2013 season.
The Pirates found a comfortable tempo to start the second half and scored their second touchdown to cap a 15-play drive that began on their own 10-yard line with 6:28 to play. Aleczander Wandler, who ran for 106 yards and accounted for both scores, picked up a fumble and ran around left edge for a 17-yard scurry that pulled the Pirates within 14-13.
Pirates coach Justin Friske said he considered the idea of going for the two-point conversion, but he didn't take long to settle on the extra point.
"Matt's been really excellent for us," Friske said. "The first (extra point) he kicked was money, and I felt like we had all the momentum, so if we got into an overtime situation, I felt like we were in really good shape. Our defense was playing great. I would have taken our chances on a 25-yard field in overtime."
The team's second half was a marked improvement from the first, when it possessed the ball for just 6 minutes, 50 seconds and committed two turnovers. The second giveaway was particularly costly, a fumbled snap on 1st and goal from the 5-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. Jason Berg's interception deep in Waterford territory set the table for the opportunity.
"We were 22 minutes too late (at getting going)," Friske said. "They did a lot of stuff we haven't seen before and executed it very well. We had a very difficult time getting them off the field in the first half. It felt like we were sitting on the sideline watching each other on offense for like 19 of the 24 first half minutes. They set the tone early. I felt really proud of our guys. We battled back really well and showed a lot of character."
Down 14-0 at the break, Pewaukee finally scored late in the third on a 1-yard plunge from Wandler. Pewaukee swallowed up the Wolverines on a 3-and-out on the ensuing possession, capped by Andrew Koenig's sack, and when Waterford got the ball back and rumbled down to the 5-yard line, the Wolverines botched a snap to give the ball back.
"We're doing so many things differently on offense this year," Waterford coach Adam Bakken said. "It's one of those things where we're getting a feel. We have a lot of different formations, a lot of different plays, a lot of different options. We started struggling up front a little bit in the second half because they were able to get pressure on our quarterback and make things more difficult.
"We feel fortunate to win. They would have felt fortunate to win. They crushed us last year, so it's a good win for us."
The Pirates had to register another 3-and-out, with a stuff in the backfield by Blaze Beltran finishing the drive, to set up the final sequence.
"Our kids executed (in the second half)," Friske said. "I'm more frustrated with a lack of sense of urgency to start the game. Once we got settled in, we were fine, but it took us too long to get settled in. We have to get ready to go. We have to be more prepared to play the game from the beginning. I thought they played their hearts out in the second half, but execution matters."
Berg finished with 13 tackles, Jacob Becker added 13 of his own, and Jordan Jones rushed for 89 yards in the defeat. Waterford's multi-faceted running attack was led by Trace Hunsicker, who ran for 50 of his 68 yards on one play.
"We typically don't give up a lot of long drives like that (last one), Bakken said. "They're going to win a lot of games. We're very fortunate to get out of here with a win, but we'll take it however it happens."
Video: Pewaukee running back Alec Wandler picks up a fumble and runs 17 yards for a touchdown to pull his team within 14-13 with 1:22 to play against Waterford on Aug. 22.
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