It may not have been the prettiest way for head coach Mike Dressler to notch his first win with the Kiel football team, but the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer was thrilled following the Raiders’ 14-7 road victory over Howards Grove on Friday night.
“It’s great. I’ve been (coaching) for 40 years, it’s just great,” Dressler said of the win. “It’s nice to have a win. I would rather win ugly than lose looking good, there’s no doubt about that. And I am happy for the kids, they’ve worked hard for this.”
With both teams exchanging penalties, fumbles and missed opportunities for most of the first half, Kiel (1-1) got on the board with 18 seconds left in the first quarter as Jacob Winkel — who turned 18 on Friday — hauled in a seven-yard pass from quarterback Nicholas Walsh to make it 7-0.
The scoring opportunity was set up by a too many men on the field penalty by Howards Grove (0-2) on a Kiel fourth-and-long punt attempt. Kiel running back Justin Bertram rushed 34 yards on the next play to get the Raiders in scoring position.
“We shot ourselves in the foot. We made a lot of mistakes. But (the win) was a team effort,” Dressler said. “(Howards Grove is) a good football team. … A lot of our younger kids stepped up and played pretty hard tonight. (Bertram) did a good job. (Bertram) has come a long way and the people up front blocked well.”
With 1:28 left in the first half, Walsh made one of the game’s most athletic plays on a second-and-10 situation as he escaped what would have been a 15-yard sack while rolling left to deliver a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Woepse to make it 14-0 at the break.
“I think we tried to force the rush too much in the first half,” Howards Grove coach David Schmid said. “They were stout against the run and we couldn’t open the holes that we expected to be there.”
With both teams exchanging possessions in the third quarter, the Tigers finally got some offensive life with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter as quarterback Austin Edge completed a pair of 20-yard passes to set the team up in the red zone.
On second-and-10 from the five-yard line, Edge found Ethan Brinkman to cut the deficit to 14-7.
“In the second half we decided to pass first and run second and that seemed to be a better combination for us,” Schmid said. “We’ve always been a run-first team, it’s been very unique to be able to score by passing. (The scoring drive) gave us confidence in our ability to pass.”
Howards Grove got the ball back with 3:51 left in the game and managed a 24-yard pass on third-and-25 to set up a fourth-and-inches scenario with two minutes left near midfield. But like they had all night, the Raiders stuffed the rush attempt and ran out the clock to seal the victory.
“Defensively we played well. We had some breakdowns, but for the most part we shut them out and gave ourselves a chance to win,” Schmid. “Overall I was pretty proud of the guys.”