OSHKOSH — The Fall River prep football team was down by four points with less than 2 minutes left in Friday’s Trailways Small Conference game against Oshkosh Lourdes, and the Pirates were down to one last shot.
The tandem of quarterback Luke Figol and wide receiver Parker Morton made it count.
Figol hit Morton for a 5-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal bootleg with 1:28 left to give Fall River a 24-20 win over host Lourdes.
“I was ecstatic,” said Figol, who connected with Cole Maloney for 14 yards give the Pirates a first-and-goal at the 7. “I was jumping up. I was hugging every guy I saw. I was so glad because they beat us last year and I wanted them to feel like we felt in the playoffs.”
Lourdes (1-2, 0-1 Trailways Small) defeated Fall River (2-1, 1-0) 30-22 last year in the first round of WIAA Division 7 playoffs last year. But for a split-second, it didn’t look like Figol would get his wish of leaving the Knights in sorrow.
That’s because Morton had initially bobbled the ball.
“Yeah, I was not going to drop it, though,” Morton said. “We were only down four. I had to catch it.”
It was Morton’s only catch of the night, and a big one it was.
It helped erase a pair of Dylan Braker fourth-quarter fumbles. The running back coughed it up at the outset of the fourth quarter, which led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Lourdes’ Coylar Newton with 8:12 remaining that gave the Knight their first lead at 20-16. The junior, who rushed 24 times for 124 yards, turned it over again on the Pirates’ ensuing possession with 8:02 left.
“It was just one of those things,” Fall River head coach Joe Zander said. “When you’re a running back, it happens. He knows it. He’s a junior now and he’s smart enough to know you’ve got to overcome those mistakes and not dwell on them, and move onto the next play and make up for it.”
Luckily, his defense made up for it. The Knights drove down to the Fall River 35-yard line, but a group of nasty Pirates met quarterback Connor Barfknecht for a 4-yard sack on a fourth-and-12 play.
“Football is a game of emotion and there’s highs and there’s lows,” Zander said. “We’ve got to make more highs than we do lows. We definitely did that.
“We had a few lows with our fumbling tonight, which we’ll shore that up this week. We shouldn’t be doing that anymore. The coach don’t like that.”
Barfknecht rushed for 159 yards on 31 carries, taking advantage of the absence of Fall River linebacker Sam Nelson, who sat out with a leg injury suffered in last week’s game.
“It was pretty bad,” Figol said of the Pirates’ inability to slow Barfknecht. “It’s really hard when our big-time linebacker Sam Nelson is out. He’s a key player. I give him a lot of credit. He studies a lot. If we had him, I think it would be a different game because he reads everything so well.
“He’s so smooth. He’s right there in every play. He has a foot or he’s in the tackle every play. He can plug up the middle.”
Had it not been for Figol’s interception of Barfknecht with 7:10 remaining in the first quarter, Fall River might not have gotten any momentum that led to a two-yard touchdown run by Braker just two seconds into the second quarter.
“It was pretty big,” Figol said. “I give credit for the other quarterback because I know how hard it is. I was just in the right area and he made a good throw, but I was just in the right area.
“It changed the game, I felt like.”
FALL RIVER 24, OSHKOSH LOURDES 20
Fall River 0 16 0 8 - 24
Lourdes 0 14 0 6 - 20
FR – Davyn Braker 2 run (run good), 11:58, 2nd
L – Connor Barfknecht 1 run (run good), 9:44, 2nd
FR – Luke Figol 8 run (run good), 4:34, 2nd.
L – Doug Ryan 45 pass from Connor Barfknecht (run failed) 1:44, 2nd
L – Colyar Newton 1 run (run failed), 8:12, 4th
FR – Parker Morton 5 pass from Luke Figol (run good), 1:28, 4th
First downs – FR 23, L 20. Rushes-Yards – FR 48-237, L 45-220. Passing yards – FR 80, L 77. Passes (Comp-Att-Int) – FR 5-12-0, L 8-12-1. Fumbles-Lost – FR 3-3, L 2-2. Penalties-Yards – FR 5-60, L 11-85.
Rushing: FR – Davyn Braker 24-124, Tanner Liebenthal 11-65. L – Connor Barfknecht 31-159. Passing: FR – Luke Figol 5-12-80-1-0. L – Connor Barfknecht 7-9-1-1, 74. Receiving: FR – Parker Morton 1-7, 1TD, Josh Olver 2-39. L – Doug Ryan 5-63, 1 TD.