That’s all that separated the Winneconne Wolves football team from Level 2 of the WIAA playoffs.
The Marshall Cardinals batted down a two-point conversion pass by the Wolves’ Dylan Hecker with no time on the clock, hanging on for a 34-33 win in a WIAA Division 4 Level 1 playoff game on Friday night.
It all came right down to the end for the Wolves, who got the ball back with just over three minutes to play after the Cardinals couldn’t convert a fake punt try, down 34-27.
The Wolves drove down to the Cardinals 15-yard line, where with no time on the clock, Hecker made an amazing throw to the left pylon to Alex Ford to draw Winneconne to within one.
That’s when the Wolves’ coaching staff decided to forego the extra point and the tie, and go for the two points and the win.
Hecker looked for Cody Van Oss in the end zone, but the play was broken up by a Marshall defender, ending the game and the Wolves’ season.
“We got all our coaches together and we said go for it,” Winneconne coach Clint Peters said. “There is not a guarantee that we make the extra point either because we missed one earlier. We rolled the dice and it didn’t go.”
Winneconne had been fighting from behind all game, finding themselves down seven at half, 21-14. Marshall got the ball after the break but Winneconne’s defense made the stop that they desperately needed, as Marshall had been gashing them with a read option for much of the first half.
But Max Gereau muffed the punt, giving Marshall new life. They scored just a few plays later on a Carl Henning three-yard run to make it 28-14 Cardinals.
The Wolves would answer back at the end of the third quarter on a Hecker plunge from a yard out on fourth and an inch to make it 28-20.
Again, Winneconne faced a situation where they needed to stop the Cardinals. But it didn’t happen as Ty DeForest got behind the Winneconne defense on fourth and nine and scored on a 27-yard TD pass from Henning to make it 34-20 Marshall.
Mistakes like that and penalties at bad times cost Winneconne at certain points of the game.
“Our mistakes are what hurt us,” Peters said. “We made too many mistakes. We were fighting from behind the whole game pretty much.”
But the Wolves weren’t out of it, getting a quick score on a four-yard touchdown from Hecker with 4:54 left to set up the final minutes of the game.
“We’ve done that all year,” Peters said. “We were able to come from behind most of the year. It just didn’t work out (this time), unfortunately.”
Hecker had a part in four of the five Winneconne touchdowns, running for three — including an impressive 23-yard run in the second quarter — and a passing touchdown. Nick Vandenlangenberg had the first touchdown of the game for the Wolves.
All-in-all it was a very good season for the Wolves, who finish 6-3 on the year. But even with that, Peters and the Wolves know that the season could’ve been even better.
“We knew that in order to be special we needed to make a run in the playoffs,” Peters said. “The kids gave it the best that they had.”
Winneconne…7 7 6 13 — 33
Marshall…7 14 7 6 — 34
MAR — Carl Henning, 36 run (Trevor McCarthy kick).
WINN — Nick Vandenlangenberg, 3 run (Mitchell Heider kick).
MAR — Henning, 5 run (McCarthy kick).
WINN — Dylan Hecker, 23 run (Heider kick).
MAR — Cole Hansen, 28 pass from Henning (McCarthy kick).
MAR — Henning, 3 run (McCarthy kick).
WINN — Hecker, 1 run (kick failed).
MAR — Ty DeForest, 27 pass from Henning (kick failed).
WINN — Hecker, 4 run (Heider kick).
WINN — Alex Ford, 15 pass from Hecker (pass failed).
First downs 18 9
Total yards 237 240
Rushing 40-192 48-223
Yards Passing 182 66
Passes 14-22-1 4-4-0
Fumbles 0-0 2-1
Rushing: WINN — Dylan Hecker 28-140. MAR
— Cole Hansen 27-115.
WINN — Hecker 14-22-1-182. MAR — Carl Henning 4-4-0-66.
WINN — Riley Kallas 3-69, Max Gereau 5-55. MAR — Ty DeForest 2-35.