WAUNAKEE — Things didn’t go exactly how Waunakee planned on Friday night.
For that, you can thank the Sauk Prairie football team.
The Eagles held Waunakee to 14 first-half points and forced them to make some key second-half adjustments in a 35-13 loss.
“We just believed we could do it,” Eagles coach Joe Marx said. “Part of our game plan was to man up on the corners, we knew if we could get pressure on them … we then could do stuff with our front line and mix it around.”
After Waunakee drove to the end zone on its second possession, Sauk found a rhythm and was able to slow the pace of the game, chew up clock, tire out Wauanakee’s defense and, most importantly, keep Wauanakee’s offense off the field.
The Eagles’ drive stalled at midfield and they would be forced to punt, but that’s when their clock chewing scheme paid dividends.
The Warriors fumbled the ball on the next play and Sauk’s defense recovered in their red zone for its first of two fumble recoveries on the night. The Eagles, however, couldn’t convert points off of this momentum shift.
“I keep thinking about that first half. It should’ve been 7-7,” Marx said. “It was definitely something to be fired up about. In our locker room at halftime, the guys were fired up and giddy and they couldn’t wait to get back out there in the second half.”
Sauk continued to pester Waunakee’s offense thanks to its man-to-man coverage.
“We knew if we could shift things around and get some stunts and mix it up, it makes it really difficult for them to pull and audible at the line of scrimmage as far as who’s going to block who,” Marx said.
“These guys are not infallible. They’re still high-school kids and if you knock them around hard enough and play physical football you can do it.”
In the first half, the plan worked until late in the second quarter.
Waunakee regained its focus to march the ball down field and take a 14-0 lead on the first of Will Helbing’s three touchdowns of the night just before halftime. A missed 30-yard field goal by Waunakee’s Luke Russell kept the score intact.
“It goes well for a while,” Marx said. “But Waunakee is still Waunakee and they came out in the second half with some great adjustments.”
That was as close as Sauk would get. Waunakee made the right adjustments at halftime and Tyler Reyonlds got his second score of the night with a 16-yard run to put his team up 21-0. Helbing would score two more times in the third quarter to help his team to a 35-0 lead.
But the Eagles weren’t ready to give up.
With Waunakee driving in the fourth quarter, the Eagles’ Zach Holler recovered a fumble at the Sauk Prairie 35-yard-line and ran it 65 yards for pay dirt. A bad snap on the point-after-touchdown made it 35-6.
The Eagles would score again late in the game when Jared Schaaf connected with Kyle McConville on a 46-yard touchdown pass.
Paul Zech led the Eagles on the ground with 23 yards on 11 carries.
WAUNAKEE 35, SAUK PRAIRIE 13
Sauk Prairie 0 0 0 13 – 13
Waunakee 7 7 21 0 – 35
1st quarter – W: Tyler Reynolds 2 run (Russell kick), 5:03.
2nd quarter – W: Helbing 4 run (Russell kick), 1:13.
3rd quarter – W: Reynolds 16 run (Russell kick), 10:35; W: Helbing 21 pass from Decorah (Russell kick), 7:12; W: Helbing 2 run (Russell kick), 0:25.
4th quarter – SP: Holler 68 fumble return (kick fail), 8:45; SP: McConville 45 pass from Schaaf (Kreitzman kick), 0:30.
First downs – SP 10, W 21; Total yards (passing-rushing) – SP 155 (70-85); W 366 (177-189); Penalties-yards – SP 2-20, W 3-50; Turnovers – SP 1, W 3; Fumbles (lost) – SP 1 (0), W 3 (2); Interceptions – SP 1, W 0.
Rushing – SP: Zech 11-23; W: Reynolds 13-96. Passing – SP: Schaaf 4-14-1 70; W: Decorah 8-15-0 177. Receiving – SP: McConville 1-46; W: Helbing 3-54, Kuser 2-56, Meffert 2-50.