Air Nienhuis struggles, but Cooney ground game, behind Rams, comes to life; OHS now 2-0 in WLT and 4-0 overall
Down by one, 22-21, in the fourth quarter, the OHS varsity football team drove 76 yards for the winning score Friday night at West Bend East to remain unbeaten in the Wisconsin Little Ten (2-0) and on the season (4-0)
Senior Aaron Kruschke scored on a 10-yard run with 4:05 left in the game to pull OHS ahead of a surprisingly tough East squad. His touchdown made the score 27-22, OHS. A PAT kick would have made the score 28-22, which would not have held if East retaliated with a score of its own. So Cooney head coach Ryan McMillen elected to go for a two-point conversion, which was successful, making the score 29-22, a touchdown margin.
Junior quarterback Ben Nienhuis, who had an off night passing, earned the two-point conversion when he rolled to his right and finding no one open, took off for the East end zone. For a moment it looked like Nienhuis had a clear path to the goal line but the opening closed quickly. Nienhuis took a hit on about the two-foot line, but managed to keep his balance and slip into the end for PAT.
Then, with just under a minute showing on the game clock. junior Carson Roseliep nailed a 20-yard field goal attempt to push the Cooney lead out to 10, at 32-22.
Statistically, East had the edge on OHS, piling up 330 yards of total offense as its offensive line, anchored by 2014 all-conference tackle Kenrick Davis, was able to move the ball against an undersized Cooney defense. Behind tough Dom Adamo, East rushed for 238 yards, the highest total of any Cooney opponent this season.
Helping open up massive holes for Adamo was an East line that featured three road graders and a couple of bulldozers. Davis who weighs 330 pounds (at least that is what they have him listed at), often had an edge on Cooney defenders of more than 150 pounds.
OHS, meanwhile, had 318 yards of total offense, thanks to a solid run game that netted a season-high 180 yards on the ground. Most of those yards came from hard-charging junior running back Jake Rams. Rams, primarily a defensive back last season, amassed 145 yards rushing. Thirty-seven of those yards came on a game-breaking 37-yard ramble in the third quarter that gave OHS a 14-7 lead. On the play, a pitch from Nienhuis, Rams started right, cut up behind a block, and then outran everyone down the middle of field for the score.
Rams also caughty three passesa for 18 yards giving him a total offense figure of 163 yards. For the game he averaged 9.67 yards a carry.
OHS struggled against East and its size, which helped make the East run game so effective. But OHS also struggled in the air, something it has not done this season.
Nienhuis, who regularly throws to spots on the field expecting a receiver to be there, threw two interceptions Friday night. The first came early in the third quarter when Nienhuis throw high and over Brett Samson. The second came less than a minute later the junior threw to a spot between two Cooney receivers who were clearly not in sync with Nienhuis.
The unflappable junior completed 16 of 26 passes for 138 yards, season lows and a number of his passes were simply not catchable. For example, one of his passes, this one to Zach Clayton, was late, forcing Clayton to catch the ball out-of-bounds.
Even the pass to Clayton for his second touchdown of the night, was not a thing of beauty. Clayton, who had lined up on the left, broke down the center, but Nienhuis threw the ball to the outside. To his credit, Clayton, a superior athlete, was able to make an adjustment by twisting his body completely around for the catch, one of two touchdowns he scored against East.
Clayton’s first touchdown of the night, which gave OHS a 7-0 lead, was a typical Nienhuis to Clayton celebration. Nienhuis lofted the ball perfectly into the corner of the end zone where only Clayton could snag it. As he has done several times already this season, Clayton positioned myself perfectly for the ball, using his strong hands and superb balance to snatch the ball away from a defender.
For the night, Clayton caught six balls for 93 yards and the two scores.
Brett Samson added 35 yards with five receptions.
For more on the game, including photos, check this page later.