Hawks take more steps forward, but turnovers costly in loss
WEBSTER 20, RIB LAKE-PRENTICE 14 (OT)
After making the clutch plays they needed in the fourth quarter of the previous week’s win at Ladysmith, the Rib Lake-Prentice Hawks weren’t able to duplicate that Friday at Webster and dropped a 20-14 overtime decision to the host Tigers.
CJ Abbas scored the game-winning 9-yard touchdown on the fourth play of Webster’s overtime possession. Rib Lake-Prentice had the first possession of overtime, but stalled after a 5-yard gain on first down from Webster’s 25.
Twice, Rib Lake-Prentice took the lead in regulation, but Webster answered both times. The second response though came after the Hawks had actually made a key fourth-quarter defensive stop. But, with a chance to chew up some clock and possibly put the game away, the Hawks instead fumbled away a first-down snap and Webster drove 54 yards to tie the game with 2:38 left.
“Looking at it, we had better stats rushing wise, receiving wise, penalty wise, but really the factor that we nailed it down to was the turnovers,” Hawks’ co-head coach Jonah Campbell said.
Indeed the statistic that stands out most is the Hawks’ five turnovers. Webster had none. Unfortunately, that put a blemish on a performance that Campbell said the coaching staff was pretty pleased with.
“We played miles better on both sides of the ball,” Campbell said. “There were some small things to fix and the turnovers obviously were big. But defensively, our tackling was huge this week just with the way we wrapped and swarmed. At Ladysmith, there were a lot of arm tackles and guys not piling on because they think the first guy has him and all of a sudden he pops out. This week it was one guy had him and the troops rallied to it. Offensively, there was just a lot more aggressive blocking, firing off the ball, making holes.”
Rib Lake-Prentice had a slight 287-270 edge in total yards and threw for 98 yards compared to Webster’s 84. Rushing yardage was close with the Hawks having the edge 189-186 and Webster had 110 penalty yards compared to just 50 for the Hawks.
The Hawks had a chance to set a strong tone early. They got a fourthdown stop after Webster drove to the Hawks’ 35 on the game’s first possession. Rib Lake-Prentice then drove down the field and scored on its first drive for the second straight week. Pass completions of 21 and 37 yards from quarterback Michael Borchardt to Michael Quednow as a roughing the passer penalty were the key plays on a 65-yard march that ended with Borchardt’s 1-yard touchdown run. Brock Thiede ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 3:24 left in the opening quarter.
“There’s not many better ways to start the game than when your defense steps up and then you march down the field and score,” Campbell said.
Another defensive stop might’ve added more momentum, but instead, the Tigers responded with a 75-yard scoring drive that tied the game early in the second quarter. Webster converted on two third-and-long situations to start the drive and capped it with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Auston Sigfrids to Gage Rossow. The two-point pass went from Sigfrids to Marcus Maxwell.
“Their first touchdown and their first two-point conversion were both deflected by Ryan Bergman,” Campbell said. “They just didn’t go down. They just kind of popped up in the air and continued their paths better than you would have expected those balls to.”
The Hawks’ next drive ended deep in Webster territory on an interception and the final drive of the half also ended on a last-play interception. A lost fumble to start the second half marked the third straight possession that ended in a turnover. The defense held again after allowing one first down. The punt pinned the Hawks at their five, but their next drive reversed field position, getting to midfi eld before they was forced to punt.
The Hawks got a fourth-down stop after Webster drove to their 30. That’s where Rib Lake-Prentice’s offense finally struck. On third and four from their 36, Thiede went off for the biggest run of his varsity career with a 64-yard touchdown. The Hawks fumbled the snap on the twopoint try, which turned out to be costly and kept the score at 14-8 with 10:59 to go.
“It was just a halfback iso off the right side,” Campbell said. “He broke a couple of arm tackles, dragged a lineman pulling on his jersey for a couple of steps. He just kept his legs moving and none of those guys making arm tackles or trying to pull him down by his jersey got him down. He popped out at the end and he had enough guys in position to cut off some sprinting cornerbacks and safeties.”
Rossow caught a 22-yard pass from Sigfrids on third and 18, but a sack by Bud Schreiner and an ensuing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Webster on the next play killed the drive. The Tigers punted and the Hawks took over on Webster’s 48 with 7:23 left with a chance to ice it. Instead, the key turnover gave Webster the ball back and the Tigers wound up scoring on Rossow’s 19-yard catch. Mason Gustafson’s kick missed, keeping the game tied at 14-14.
“We’d been able to move the ball, it was just a matter of finishing drives at that point,” Campbell said. “We’d been able to eat clock and then we fumble the first snap of that drive and they jump on it. It was one of those deals where it’s hard to gain momentum back.”
The Hawks actually almost did rebound from it, getting to the 11-yard line before they ran out of downs and time. After gaining six yards on their first two plays of overtime, two incomplete passes gave Webster the ball with the chance to win it with any kind of score. They got it with the Abbas touchdown.
“Both of those throws were open,” Campbell said of the overtime incompletions. “One got knocked down and the other one (Borchardt) didn’t have a lot of time. Even on a lot of his throws, credit to him, he stepped through them and threw and took hits afterwards and was still able to put the ball in good spots most of the time.”
Borchardt finished 10 of 22 in passing with Quednow catching two for 58 yards and Ashton Keiser grabbing six for 25 yards. Thiede led the ground game with 75 yards on six carries. Sam Gumz had 51 yards on 14 attempts and Keiser had 35 yards on eight carries.
Carter Scheithauer led the defense with 8.5 total tackles, including one for loss. He had seven solo stops. Thiede and Brandon Heiser both had two tackles for loss.
“It was a fight both ways and they just came out on top,” Campbell said.
The Hawks (1-1) expect another competitive matchup this week when they visit Lake Holcombe-Cornell (3-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be played at Lake Holcombe.