After being eliminated from playoff contention a week ago, it would have been easy for the Fond du Lac High School football team to take it easy for the final two weeks of the season.
Instead, the Cardinals had their best offensive game of the season in a 41-27 victory at Titan Stadium on Friday against Oshkosh West.
The turning point came in the third quarter. The Wildcats (2-5, 2-4) trailed 27-6 at one point in the first half, but clawed their way back into the game in the third period on a beautiful ball from Sam Olejnik to Emil Vajgrt for a 21-yard TD pass to make it 27-20 Fond du Lac.
“We had a little momentum going into half,” West coach Ken Levine said. “If we could just get back to playing the way we are capable of playing, we’ll get right back into the game. And they did.”
All the Wildcats needed was one stop and, with the Cardinals pinned down on their own nine-yard line, that looked like it was going to happen.
Then came the backbreaker. The Cardinals chewed up 91 yards over seven and a half minutes between the third and fourth quarters, capped off with a 16-yard run by sophomore quarterback Jack Nejedlo, making it 34-20 Fond du Lac with just 5:31 left to go.
Fond du Lac twice faced third-down situations and a fourth-down situation once but kept the pivotal drive alive.
“The one thing I’ve been worried about all year is teams lining up with their big boys,” Levine said. “We just don’t match up well with that double power I. It’s tough for our kids to stop that particular kind of play.”
Fond du Lac got a big day from Nejedlo, who was filling in for injured starter Andy Mathews. Nejedlo was 12-for-23 for 173 yards and three touchdown passes to John Gaskell, who surpassed 100 yards again with 121 on seven grabs.
George McEnroe ran for 121 yards on 28 carries for Fond du Lac (3-4, 2-4), who finish the season next Friday at Fruth Field against playoff-bound Menasha.