Down 21-0 at half, OHS rallies to tie game at 21-21 before touchdown pass with 11 seconds left wins it for the Warhawks
Down 21-0 at the half, the OHS varsity football team rallied in the second half to tie Arrowhead, 21-21, before a late Arrowhead score with 11 seconds left allowed the Warhawks to escape with a 28-21 WIAA Level 3 win Friday night at OHS.
Given the Cooney rally, it was a bitter pill for the home team to swallow as it halted the team’s bid to continue its 2015 unbeaten streak and its quest to reach the WIAA playoff finals in Madison.
With the loss, OHS ends an extraordinary season at 11-1. Arrowhead, which has reached the state finals three of the last four seasons, is now 11-1. AHS won titles in 2013, 2012, 2008, and 2007.
The Warhawks won when on a second-and-10 play from the OHS 11-yard line quarterback Johnny Duranso hit his top receiver, Nick Bastien, with an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap a four-minute, 12-play, 80-yard drive that started with 4:16 left in the final quarter and the ball on the Arrowhead 20-yard line.
That clinched the win for Arrowhead, the co-champ of the Classic Eight conference this season.
Arrowhead seemed on its way to an easy victory when it outscored OHS 21-0 in the first half.
OHS, on the other hand, started slow with the Warhawk defense forcing Cooney to punt on its first three possessions. On its fourth possession, OHS lost the ball via an interception as Arrowhead completely stymied the Cooney offense while scored on three of its first four possessions of the half.
But in the third quarter had the ball three times and scored on each possession.
Its first score came on an 8-yard Jake Rams run with 8:28 showing on the clock. Carson Roseliep’s PAT made the score 21-7. Key plays in the 80-yard, 8-play drive were Ben Nienhuis pass completions of 17 yards to Zach Clayton, 20 yards to Brett Samson, and 21 to Christian Gurule.
Cooney’s second score at the end of 10-play 77-yard drive featuring two 17-yard runs by Nienhuis, plus a 24-yard pass completion from Nienhuis to Brett Samson. Rams earned the score with a 9-yard touchdown reception. That made it 21-14.
Then in the fourth quarter, Rams scored again for OHS (his third TD of the night), to give OHS a tie at 21-21 at the 8:37 mark in the quarter.His 1-yard run capped another long Cooney drive, this one for 74 yards on 10 plays. Key plays in the drive were a 21-yard run by Rams and a 27-yard completion from Nienhuis to Samson that was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Arrowhead. Roseliep’s third successful PAT made the score 21-21.
But Arrowhead was not about to wilt and despite reeling from the three consecutive Cooney scores, Arrowhead bounced back for the game’s final score and the win.
Behind its big start, Arrowhead dominated the game from a stats perspective, rolling up 537 yards in total offense to Oconomowoc’s 328.
And while Duranso’s pass won it for the visitors, the Arrowhead ground game helped it to its big initial lead. For the game, Arrowhead pounded out 315 rushing yards. OHS countered with 174 yards on the ground, with Rams leading the way with 103 yards on only 10 carries. Nienhuis added 46 yards on the ground.
Duranso, who had missed the team’s first last two playoff games due to an injury, was the game’s top passer, completing 17 of 27 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 121 yards to emerge as the game’s top rusher. On the night, Duranso accounted for 344 of his team’s yardage.
For OHS, Nienhuis, a junior, netted 184 yards passing on 15 of 25 passing. He also threw for a score to bring his total of touchdown passes for the season to 36.