After months of buildup, No. 1 Washington and No. 2 Roosevelt finally squared off to decide who would carry the top seed into the postseason.
Four quarters, two overtimes and some crazy bounces later, the Warriors have emerged as that team.
Washington kicker Brock Walker overcame a pair of misses — including 22-yard attempt in the first overtime period that clanged off the left upright — with a sudden-death make from 21-yards out in the second OT to seal the 10-7 win for the Warriors.
Before Walker’s game-winner but after his miss on the first OT possession, the sophomore kicker slumped his head on the jog back to the sideline but was corralled by special teams coach Eric Struck and head coach Chad Stadem.
Roundup: No. 1 Madison cruises past Milbank
“I grabbed him and said, ‘You’re okay. The guys will take care of you,’” Stadem said, intimating to Walker that the Warrior defense would hold. “I told him, ‘I still love ya – I’m not mad. Yeah, you hit the upright. We’ll get it next time.’”
Washington forced a fumble on the next play and recovered, which ended the first OT and set the Riders up for the first possession of the second extra period. Facing third down from the 16-yard-line, Washington defensive back Logan Eckhoff made a diving interception.
Then came Walker’s fateful game-winner.
“He made the big kick,” Stadem said. “All is forgotten.”
Chargers top Mustangs, clinch first-ever playoff berth
Thursday’s defensive slugfest saw the game’s only touchdowns come in the first half, and the contest was knotted up at 7-7 for much of the night. While the Warriors nearly doubled Roosevelt’s total yardage (240 to 127), Washington was just two-for-five in red zone scoring.
“The first drive they kind of pushed us back and I think our guys responded and said, ‘It’s not going to happen tonight,’” said Roosevelt coach Kim Nelson. “They made it really hard on the Warriors to move the ball, and that’s a really good, big offensive line.”
The Warriors did accumulate 154 yards of rushing, with 148 of those coming from Chayden Fitzsimmons. The senior didn’t lack for carries, with 35, and scored the team’s lone touchdown on a five-yard run in the first quarter.
Bucks seize No. 2 seed with authority
Quarterback Jack Schelhaas had a harder go, netting just six yard on 19 attempts to with a 7-for-13 effort passing for 86 yards and an interception. Against Schelhaas all game, and against Fitzsimmons late, the Riders defense was active at the line of scrimmage and flowed to the ball. On his final 10 carries of the game, Fitzimmons gained just 15 yards.
When it was all done, Fitzsimmons didn’t seem any worse for the wear.
“Let’s go some more,” Fitzsimmons said. “Let’s go through more. I’m not done. Let’s go.”
Riders lose quarterback Thune
Roosevelt quarterback Jett Thune helped lead his offense to a pair of first downs on the team’s first possession. Facing third-and-10 from midfield, the senior rolled to his right before taking off to try and convert. Thune shook off the tackle by Joey Wehrkamp but took a hard shot from Jack Bren.
Thune broke a bone in his right foot on the play. The senior spent the rest of the half icing his foot. He kept his helmet on. He didn’t return, and the Riders will be without Thune on the field for the remainder of the season. Thune said he will have surgery Friday.
Knights turn back Lincoln
“That’s the way it is. We’ve had a tough year with injuries, to some key guys” Nelson said. “We’ve lost guys right up the middle of our offense, right up the middle of our defense. But we’re not just made of those guys. We’ve got a lot of guys who want to play. We’ve got a lot of good football players, and a lot of good football left in us.”
Junior Torren Devericks assumed Thune’s spot, and big plays were hard to come by against a Washington defense that has dominated its opposition in recent weeks. Devericks did engineer the Riders’ lone scoring drive, which came on the heels of a second-quarter interception by Tanner Machacek.
After taking a sack by Jenson Amdahl – the Washington senior lineman was all over the field and finished with four sacks on the night – Devericks responded with a 25-yard pass to Tyler Van Voorst up the right seam. Three plays later, Devericks dove over the goal line for a four-yard score.
“He hasn’t played with these guys very much, he’s been a JV player,” Nelson said of Devericks, “so it’s tough to come in in this type of game and take over that position and be smooth and execute. But he made plays. I am really proud of Torren, and I’m really proud of the way he responded tonight – and how our whole team responded.”
Thursday’s high school football scores, schedule
Devericks finished 7-for-11 passing for 68 yards. Roosevelt will need the junior to make plays if a trip to the DakotaDome is in the works.
“We have to be better on special teams. We have to be better on offense,” Nelson said. “We don’t have to be great – but we have to be better than we were tonight.”
Moving on from Thune won’t come easily, but the Riders were down several starters beyond their quarterback. Playing through injuries has already defined the team’s season.
“It never mattered who was on the field as long as we played together and we play as a family,” said Cole Zwahr, who stepped into the starting lineup about a month ago for injured linebacker Andrew Batt and finished Thursday with a team-high 13 tackles, forced fumble and sack. “We’ve got a good heart and it beats as one.”