Nienhuis again racks up five touchdown passes as Cooney defeats another Classic Eight team; Beaver Dam here next Friday
So far so good.
Since Oconomowoc had a lot of success with Air Nienhuis last week at Kettle Moraine–a 37-20 win–Cooney head coach Ryan McMillen decided Thursday night to unleash it again. And it worked–again–this time for a resounding, 52-31, win over Waukesha South in the OHS home opener.
The win pushed the Cooney record to 2-0, which means it had already bested last season’s one-win record. It also gave OHS its second straight nonconference win over a Classic Eight team, heading into Oconomowoc’s Wisconsin Little Ten opener next week, at home, against Beaver Dam. South is now 1-1.
Cooney quarterback Ben Nienhuis, a junior in his first full season at the helm of the Cooney offense threw for five touchdowns against South, duplicating his performance of last week. His completion percentage was the same as last week, 62.2%, but he attempted (45) more passes and completed more (28). His yardage total in the air–359-also exceeded his total from last week–233.
It didn’t hurt that against South OHS saw the return to action of star junior wide receiver Zach Clayton. Clayton was Nienhuis’ favorite target against South, grabbing 12 passes for an impressive 204 yards and four touchdowns. The Cooney receiver sat out last week’s game and although a little rusty Thursday night, Clayton set the tone for the game early as he and Nienhuis hooked up on a 25-yard touchdown pass on Cooney’s second possession to get the home team off to a fast start, 7-0, at the 7:37 mark in the first quarter.
South came right back to tie the score at 7-7, but OHS took the lead again–this time for good–when senior Aaron Kruschke, running hard, took the ball 13 yards for Oconomowoc’s second score with 1:26 showing on the clock on the first quarter. A succesful PAT by Caron Roseliep produced the 14-7 Cooney lead.
Minutes later, on its third possession of the half, Nienhuis and Clayton combined for another score, this time for 39 yards. Roseliep’s kick made it 21-7 just inside the second quarter.
Disaster then struck South as first the team’s kickoff returner bobbled the kick and then slipped down at the 7-yard line giving South terrible field position. On the next play, South’s quarterback was unable to handle the snap from center with the ball ending up in the South end zone where Nolan Heck could do nothing but fall on it for a safety. That pushed the Cooney lead out to 23-7 at the 11:44 mark.
South was forced to do a free kick after the safety and nine plays later, OHS was in the South end zone. To no one’s surprise, Nienhuis found Clayton again for a 14-yard touchdown. That score made it 29-7, but this time, instead of a kick, McMillen decided to go for a two-point conversion. Nienhuis’ run made it 31-7 midway through the second quarter.
Late in the quarter, South scored to make it 31-14, but with less than a minute to go, OHS worked the clock well enough for the final score of the half.
One guess how OHS scored. Yup, Nienhuis, back on his own 38-yard line, lined up both Clayton and tight end Brett Samson wide right, and when Clayton beat his defender on a go route down the right sideline for a 62-yard score, the longest of the night, Cooney expanded its lead to 38-14 (Roseliep’s PAT was good) going into the locker room at the half.
The game Blackshirts, winners of its non conference opener last week, did manage to score 17 unanswered points in the third quarter, including one score off a deflected Nienhuis pass that was returned for a South touchdown, but two more Cooney scores keep South at bay.
The first score came in the third quarter after South had closed the gap to 38-31 when Nienhuis scored on a quarterback keeper from the 1-yard line with 1:58 on the third quarter clock. The Cooney score capped a 14-play, 82-yard drive. Roseliep’s kick made it 45-31.
Cooney and Nienhuis then sealed the win with an 11-yard Nienhuis to Ethan Wegner score. Roseliep’s kick made produced the final, 52-31, score.
On the night, OHS scored on five or its first seven possessions as it dominated play in the first half. Both teams managed 23 first downs and South actually had the ball more–77 plays to Oconomowoc’s 67–and it had a five-minute edge in time of possession: 26:30 to 21:30. South also had an edge in rushing, 140-81. Normally a run-first, pass-second time, South had only 140 yards on the ground to go with its 242 passing for a respectable 382 yards of total offense. South attempted 42 passes, completing 26.
Check back for more photos from the game, an analysis, and a preview of the game next Friday night versus Beaver Dam, a team that last season shocked the Raccoons at Beaver Dam.