Roncalli’s Nick Stelzer intercepted a desperation pass by Freedom quarterback Andrew Connelly with 43 seconds to go in the game to hand the No. 1 seeded Jets the 18-13 win over the No. 2 Irish on Friday in a WIAA Division 4, Level 3 playoff game on Friday night.
“It was probably one of the biggest moments of my life, words can’t explain it” Stelzer said about the game-clinching play.
The Jets (12-0) trailed 13-12 entering the fourth quarter after Connelly connected with receiver Collin Hofacker on a 46-yard touchdown strike midway through the third as the Roncalli defender slipped on the play.
The game turned out exactly how Freedom coach Clint Kriewaldt expected.
“I wasn’t expecting a shootout, a high scoring game,” said Kreiwaldt.
It looked like for the first time all season, the Jets vaunted rushing attack would be stopped with none of Roncalli’s three main running backs gaining more than 32 yards. But in stepped quarterback Jared Patek.
For the second consecutive game, Patek orchestrated an aerial assault which helped jump start Roncalli’s offense to a tune of 167 yards on 11-for-17 passing. He wasn’t done though, adding 71 yards on eight carries to finish with 238 yards of total offense.
The biggest beneficiary of Patek’s big night was Stelzer, who showed great hands on both sides of the ball, hauling in seven passes for 97 yards. Stelzer provided Patek with a reliable option to move the chains whenever Roncalli was forced into a long down and distance.
While Patek helped march the Jets down the field, it was running backs JP Ruether and Alex Deets who cashed near the goal line to score all three Roncalli touchdowns. Ruether got things started with an eight-yard touchdown run before Deets scored on a pair of one-yard runs including the game winner with 3:31 left.
Freedom (8-4) had a plan going into the game according to Kriewaldt, which was to hand the ball off consistently to running back Nathan Peters. Peters had nine carries on the Irish’s first drive alone, and ended the game with 33 carries for 163 yards and a seven-yard touchdown.
What didn’t go to plan for Freedom, though, was the loss of backup running back Isaac Gonnering and fullback/defensive lineman Mason Strum early in the game to injuries which drastically altered the offensive game plan for the Irish.
“I know (Roncalli) has injuries they deal with but Strum is a big time player for us,” Kriewaldt said. “It sucks because you could see the difference not having Strum out there made. …We thought we could establish the run game but once again, Strum was our big bruising fullback who I don’t think (Roncalli) wanted to hit over and over again. Losing him was a big difference in our offense.”
R – J.P. Ruether 8 run (Conversion failed).
F – Nathan Peters 7 run (Kick failed).
F – Collin Hofacker 46 pass from Andrew Connelly (Eric Schommer kick).
R – Alex Deets 1 run (Conversion failed).
R – Deets 1 run (Conversion failed).
|Total Net Yards||242||330|
Rushing — Freedom, Nathan Peters 33-121. Roncalli, Jared Patek 8-71.
Passing — Freedom, Andrew Connelly 5-15-2-125. Roncalli, Patek 11-17-1-167.
Receiving — Freedom, Peters 2-54. Roncalli, Nick Stelzer 7-97.