Randolph's late push ends Lake Country Lutheran season
Randolph scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, seizing control of a Level 3 playoff battle in Division 7 and ultimately sliding past Lake Country Lutheran in a battle of unbeaten squads, 41-27.
The Lightning held a 27-20 lead in the fourth quarter, but Randolph scored on a 63-yard pass connection at the 8:15 mark, a go-ahead 23-yard run by Thomas VanderGalien with 4:45 to play and a 21-yard run by VanderGalien for good measure with 2:27 remaining.
VanderGalien finished with 190 yards rushing and two touchdowns, though the Rockets also scored twice on long passing plays and once on a kickoff return from Duke VanderGalien.
“Our focus on this team was that they wanted to run against us,” LCL coach Greg Brazgel said. “In the first half, we shut that down, but they did their job by having something else in their pocket in the passing game. We lived and died all year in the Cover-1, and we gave up three plays in the Cover-1. It ended up opening up their offense a little bit.”
Both teams entered the meeting at Randolph with 10-0 records, with the Rockets surviving an overtime contest against Catholic Central in Level 2. The Lightning delivered most of the big blows in the first half, including Justin Prostinak’s 34-yard touchdown to make it 7-3, Adam Tovar’s 42-yard scamper to give his team a 13-10 lead and a hook-and-ladder play on the final snap of the first half to take a 20-13 edge into halftime.
“What that came down to is we ran a couple deep plays, and we knew they were going to focus on (receiver) Jacob Demman, so we ran him short and he was able to catch it,” Brazgel said.
With time expiring on the play, Demman turned and shoveled to Tovar, who found the left sideline and scratched his way to the end zone for the 21-yard finish to an 80-yard drive. In a first half that had seen a sequence of three consecutive turnovers – two by Lake Country Lutheran – and an 84-yard kickoff return by Randolph’s Duke VanderGalien, it was a great place to be.
Demman, one of the state’s most prolific receiving threats, finished with just three catches, but the third was a circus 23-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Jacob Simons, giving his team a 27-20 lead with 3:41 to play in the third quarter. Demman made a diving snag near the pylon and was awarded the score on simultaneous possession with the Randolph defender.
“Jacob Demman’s catch in the end zone there was the single greatest football play I’ve ever seen live, and I’ve been around a lot of football in Ohio and Wisconsin,” Brazgel said. “Absolutely phenomenal. He’s very worthy of being in the top five list for the Al Toon Award (presented by Wissports.net), and as a D7 receiver, I hope somebody notices him because he’s absolutely phenomenal.
“You never feel good in a Level 3 playoff game until it’s over,” Brazgel added. “They are Randolph and they don’t stop. They grow winners much like us and they battled back. They made the plays when they had to.”
Thomas VanderGalien finished with 190 yards rushing and demonstrated his booming kicking leg in converting each of the extra points and a 33-yard field goal. Randolph advanced to a state semifinal against Potosi, while LCL was stopped in Level 3 for a second straight year.
“They have very talented kids; I told my guys don’t let anybody behind you,” Randolph coach Pete Woreck said. “I saw on film any one of their guys can get behind you or make a big play happen. We knew their quarterback was good. We had to contain him as much as we could. They’re a heck of a football team.”
Randolph initially tied the score on an 89-yard pass to Sam Wilcox, a play that came on 2nd and 21. After LCL’s drive stalled near midfield, the Lightning immediately recovered a fumble leading into Demman’s highlight-reel catch. But the next three drives stalled deep in their own territory, and a last-ditch effort stopped at the Randolph 45.
“Level 3 (with a record of) 10-0 is different than Level 3 at 8-4 (last year),” Brazgel said. “It is going to be our goal next year (to get farther). You push this limit as far as you possibly can. We left a little door open (for improvement). God will continue to give us His blessings in His time. We understand our time’s not God’s time.
“When you get to this level, they’re all good teams left. Hopefully we made another shout out about D7 football here. This is a high level of football and it’s fun to watch.”
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