The Campbellsport High School football team made it both a happy Homecoming and stayed in the hunt for a playoff spot on Friday night with a 28-22 victory over visiting Kiel.
The Cougars improved to 4-3 overall and 3-3 in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference, one win from becoming eligible for the playoffs for the first time since 2005 with Waupun remaining next week to finish the regular season.
Campbellsport’s Taylor Straschinske scored all four of the Cougars’ touchdowns. He rumbled to 194 yards on 24 rushes, and the senior fullback carried a number of Raiders on his back after initial contact including a 12-yarder to clinch the game on a third-and-12 play with a little more than a minute to play.
His first score, a 75-yard dash off tackle evened the game at 6-6 in the first quarter. He said he didn’t think it would continue to be so easy.
“I wasn’t really going to get my hopes up, because most teams we play after I break a long one they lock me down so I can’t get any more yards,” Straschinske said. “I have to give most of the credit to my line. They worked so hard during practice this week, and I have to give all the credit to them.”
He plunged in from a yard out early in the second quarter to cap a long Cougars drive. After a two-point conversion, Campbellsport led 14-6, and that held up until after the half.
Kiel scored coming out of the half, then recovered a short kick-off and converted it into a 22-14 lead. Campbellsport had yet to run an offensive play with 5:49 left in the third period.
“I have to give our kids a hats off because we were done and out, but our kids found the resiliency to come back and make the plays they needed to to win the game,” said Campbellsport coach Bob Hepp.
After a three-and-out by the Cougars, Kiel had the ball on Campbellsport’s side of the field. On third-and-9, however, Cougars’ linebacker Ryan Gellings picked off a pass that killed the Raiders’ surge.
“That was huge not only getting the ball back, but for field position rather than a punt,” Hepp said. “That put us in a good spot and we were able to go down and make a drive.”
They converted, polished off by a 6-yard Straschinske run, but the two-point conversion pass failed and the Cougars trailed 22-20 with 8:56 left to play.
On Campbellsport’s next possession, Hepp went back to a play that looked like it would have worked earlier in the game. Campbellsport threw a screen pass to Straschinske in the third quarter, but he dropped the pass.
This time Straschinske made the play and went for 59 yards for the go-ahead touchdown when he tight-roped down the sideline.
“I was hoping (they’d call it again),” Straschinske said. “Out of all the plays in our playbook those are my favorite plays: the fullback screen. When I get into the open I love hearing the crowd cheer and knowing I’m helping my team win.”
Kiel mounted a drive in the final 7 minutes, but the Cougars’ defense held. Austin Kerkela, a senior defensive back, had two consecutive pass break-ups, then a fourth-and-9 pass fell incomplete to give the ball back to Campbellsport on downs.
Next up for the Cougars is Waupun, which will visit next week with a 1-6 record.
“We’re not getting our hopes up too much,” Straschinske said. “We have to have a good week of practice with no mistakes and play hard like we did (Friday), and it should be a good outcome.”