NORTH FOND DU LAC – The North Fond du Lac and Lomira football teams saved all of the scoring action for the final 4½ minutes of their Flyway football game on Friday at Art Humphrey Field.
North Fond du Lac scored with 1:04 to play and made a two-point conversion for a 15-14 victory over the Lions, making it the first win for the Orioles since late in the 2010 season.
“It feels amazing,” said North Fondy junior receiver Parker Parrish, who scored both of his team’s touchdowns. “We worked hard for it all week and all season. And I want to congratulate Coach (Zac) Ruch on his first win.”
The first three quarters featured quality defense and more penalties than anyone probably cared to see. But the final 4 minutes, 32 seconds were worth waiting out what had been a driving rain early in the second half.
“We had some adversity in the first half, we had a lot of penalties and mistakes,” Ruch said. “We cleaned it up in the second half.
“It’s a tribute to the kids. The kids have worked so hard.”
With about 6 minutes to play Lomira’s Terrell Morgan intercepted a tipped ball near the line of scrimmage and returned it to the Orioles’ 14-yard line. Facing fourth-and-8 from the 12, Bryce Bannach somehow hauled in a pass from Ethan Hackbarth for a touchdown.
With 4:32 remaining and an offense that produced just 72 total yards, the Lions decided to try a two-point conversion for the lead. It worked when Garrett Keller plunged in for an 8-7 advantage.
The Orioles went into passing mode with about 2 minutes to play, and another interception got returned 52-yards for a touchdown by Lomira’s James Wiley. The extra-point kick failed, giving the Lions a 14-7 lead with 1:24 to play.
North Fondy’s Colton Catt returned the ensuing kickoff for 35 yards out to the 46-yard line. On first down, senior quarterback Logan Krueger rolled right and threw across to Parrish, who had his man beat on a fly route.
“I looked back and saw the ball but I lost it for a few seconds in the lights,” Parrish said. “It came down right back into my arms. All I thought was I was scoring this touchdown no matter what.”
He did, and his 54-yard TD made it 14-13. With the game on the line, the Orioles handed the ball to Matt Triatik. He bulled in for the two-point conversion and the winning points.
“This will be the longest 20-minute bus ride of their lives,” said Lomira coach Seth Larson. “As a coach it’s tough. When the game’s decided by a point, you can’t help but blame yourself and feel you let the kids down. It’s been a frustrating year and it’s going to be hard to keep the kids up because they give everything 110 percent of the time.”
Parrish caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Ballwanz with a minute to play in the first half. For the game, Parrish had four catches for 121 yards. He was the only player with noteworthy individual stats. There were 25 total penalties, and when the offenses weren’t hampering themselves, the defenses were doing it for them.
North Fondy allowed just 19 rushing yards to the Lions. It only collected 104 on the ground as the Lomira defense came up to the line and dared the Orioles to throw.
“Our defense did a phenomenal job,” said Krueger, who not only came in at quarterback in fourth quarter after rushing for a game-high 77 yards at halfback, but he also played inside linebacker. “It made the right plays at the right time and gave us a good shot to win at the end.”
All North Fondy needed was that chance.
“They got a touchdown, and that gave them all the momentum,” Parrish said. “We never gave up on each other; we’re a brotherhood, not just a team.”