MIDDLETON — All Fall River’s prep football team could do was tip its hat. Black Hawk was that good.
There was no other way of explaining the Warriors’ utterly dominating performance in their 56-8 win over the Pirates on Friday night in a WIAA Division 7 state semifinal game played at Otto Breitenbach Stadium.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Pirates head coach Joe Zander said. “They came ready to play, and it showed — the scoreboard shows how well-coached they are.
“They came out physical on us and they beat us up and down the field.”
That the Warriors (13-0) did — right from the word go.
After forcing Fall River (11-2) to go three-and-out on the opening series of the game, Black Hawk’s Brody Milz rushed six yards, then Michael Flanagan hit Jett Rufenacht racing up the seam for a 55-yard touchdown that made it 6-0 before the two-point conversion pushed it to 8-0 with just 2 minutes, 12 seconds gone by.
Next it was Milz’s turn to hit paydirt as he plowed off left guard for a 1-yard TD that made it 14-0 with 5:51 gone by.
Fall River went 69 yards in 16 plays — twenty-three of the yards came via penalty — but came up empty on fourth-and-goal from the 10. The missed opportunity became even more painful four plays later, when Colby Argall’s 27-yard TD dash up the left sideline capped a quick 88-yard drive that made it 20-0 early in the second quarter.
“They definitely were able to spread it around and share the wealth; it was tough to game-plan and stop that,” Zander said. “We thought we could maybe stop one or two of their kids, but it seemed like we were struggling (to stop any of them) tonight.
“Their coaching staff did a great job.”
By halftime, the Warriors had 390 yards of offense and a 36-0 lead, leaving the Pirates with no hopes of a comeback and only pride to play for.
That objective didn’t get off to a good start in the third quarter, though, when a 55-yard pass from Flanagan to Jason Treuthardt on the first play from scrimmage and a 12-yard fumble recovery by Rufenacht on the second play from scrimmage extended the Warriors’ cushion to 48-0.
But midway through the fourth quarter, Luke Figol was able to connect with a wide open Tanner Liebenthal for a 45-yard TD to prevent a shutout.
And then Keegan Wodill dribbled an onside kick up near midfield that Maverick Salzman recovered, giving the Pirates one more highlight in a game otherwise filled with lowlights.
“Our kids, they’ll get down but they won’t quit,” Zander said. “They’re fighters, and they played with heart.
“It was just unfortunate that the ball obviously didn’t bounce our way at all tonight.”
No it didn’t.
But for much of the year it did, resulting in the deepest playoff run in postseason history. Prior to this year, Fall River had never made it past the second round.
“It is,” Zander said, “a heck of an accomplishment.”