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August 25, 2012 | 11:35 AMFriday night's Badger football season opener had all the makings of a typical first game.
Penalties. Mental mistakes. A couple times, Badger played with nine players on the field. And the local boys committed 12 penalties overall.
But after a rough first half, Badger rallied for 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points and was in position to win with only two minutes left in the game. That's when visiting West Allis Hale embarked on a 65-yard drive and scored the game-winning touchdown and extra point with 27 seconds left to stun the Badgers, 21-20, in nonconference action.
Badger's Matt Reynolds scored with 1:30 remaining on a one-yard touchdown run to give Badger the lead, 20-14, but Kyle Janikowski's kick was blocked. The miscue came back to haunt the Badgers.
For Badger coach Matt Hensler, it was a combination of mistakes that led to the team's downfall.
"On the blocked extra point, we had one guy do his own thing, and it ended up costing us the ball game," he said. "On their final drive, we lined up wrong almost every play. It's mental stuff right now, and it's inexcusable. We came out extremely soft, and we were timid. They were very much the aggressor. It was very one-sided in the first half."
Badger took a 7-0 lead on Peter Krien's 10-yard touchdown run with 4:25 in the second quarter, but Hale struck with two quick touchdown passes, one a 70-yarder, to take a 14-7 halftime lead.
The teams were scoreless in the third quarter. Then, Badger picked up its play in the fourth. After the Badger defense forced a Hale punt from its own end zone, junior Andrew Allen's 25-yard scamper set the Badgers up deep in Hale territory. With 8:47 to go in the game, Robert Johnson punched it in from three yards out to tie the game at 14-14.
Tom Ritzman came up with a pick on the ensuing Hale possession, but Badger was unable to capitalize. However, the Badger defense rose to the occasion, forcing an incompletion on a third and five. On fourth down, Hale's punt backed up Reynolds, but he was able to reverse his field and gain 27 yards, giving Badger excellent field position at the Hale 30.
On the next play, Johnson bolted ahead for 27 yards down to the 1-yard line. Reynolds finished off the drive with a powerful run off left tackle for the score.
But Hale quarterback Nick Sotiros, who finished with 265 passing yards and three touchdowns, led his team on a precise two-minute drill that featured completions of 14, 18 and 18 yards. On third and goal with 27.7 seconds left, after two incompletions, Sotiros found Derrick Waller for a seven-yard slant to tie the game at 20-20. The extra point made it 21-20.
Allen and Evan Gibson both left the game with injuries.
"We have three or four serious injuries," Hensler said. "We're very worried about that."
Badger outgained Hale, 314-275.
Badger rushed for 255 yards, led by Austin Borst's 73. Johnson added 69 yards on 13 carries, and Krien tallied 66 yards.
Krien passed for 59 yards. Reynolds led Badger receivers with three catches for 38 yards.
Waller caught three balls for 108 yards to pace Hale.
Badger travels to Burlington next Friday to open Southern Lakes play. Burlington beat Racine Horlick, 20-13, Friday night.
"All I know is the teams we play now are better and better each week," Hensler said. "If we don't get better, then we're going to be in trouble. Hopefully, we respond to the challenge next week."
Big Foot 49, Westosha Central 13
A collective sigh came over the Big Foot football home faithful Friday night in Walworth.
Star running back Mason Dixon was escorted off the field due to heat exhaustion issues in the first quarter of the team's season opener against Westosha Central and didn't return until the second half.
However, Big Foot senior quarterback Carter Hehr made sure there was nothing to worry about on the field.
He ran for three first-half scores and passed for two more in the second half to help the Chiefs crush the visiting Falcons.
Dixon, a senior who is a little more than a 1,000 yards away from breaking the school rushing record, came back just in the nick of time for Big Foot. After Central cut the lead to 21-14 early in the fourth quarter, Hehr hooked up with Matt Ripkey for a long touchdown pass. After Big Foot forced a three-and-out, Dixon returned. He ended up running for two touchdowns, and Big Foot dominated the second half.
"Mason felt light-headed in the first half," Big Foot coach Rodney Wedig said. "We wanted to make sure he wasn't dehydrated. We put him back in, gave him the ball, and he did what he does best."
Hehr was the man for Big Foot, running for 127 yards and passing for more than 100.
"I'm hoping that's the way Carter's games go the rest of the season," Wedig said. "When he plays that way, we're a tough offense to stop. It was good for us to not have a running clock. I was impressed. When we keep our focus, we're pretty good."
The Chiefs racked up 336 rushing yards, led by Dixon's 142. Also, Wedig was impressed with Tim Long, who ran for 51 yards on nine carries.
"I thought he would get 10 carries all year," Wedig joked. "Tim stepped in and did an awesome job."
Defensively, Big Foot held Central to two yards per carry and less than 200 total yards.
"I was a little disappointed that we gave up two big plays," Wedig said. "But Frederick played an incredible game, and Daniel Gilstrap really stepped up."
Horicon 45, Williams Bay 6
The Bulldogs will have to wait another week for their first win in five years.
On Friday night, the host Marshmen jumped out to a 26-0 halftime lead en route to a throttling of the Bay boys.
It was Bay coach Derek Diehl's first game, but the Bulldogs couldn't get much going offensively.
The Bay was out-gained, 401-121, and the Marshmen passed and ran at will all night.
The Bulldogs' lone score came on a Ryan Bonamarte nine-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Jacob Clark paced the Bay with 75 yards rushing. Quarterback Jake Sutter threw for 43 yards, all of which went to Bonamarte.
Check Wednesday's Regional News for more on these three games and like our Facebook page, Regional News Sports Check, http://www.facebook.com/regionalnewssportscheck, for a photo album from tonight's Big Foot game.
Other Friday area football scores
Wauwatosa East 27, Delavan-Darien 21
Homestead 22, Waterford 6
Burlington 20, Racine Horlick 13
Lake Country Lutheran 21, Burlington Catholic Central 20
Whitewater 12, Palmyra-Eagle 0
River Valley 32, Brodhead 0
Racine Case 35, Union Grove 0
East Troy 36, Elkhorn 6
North Boone 48, Clinton 27