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October 12, 2012 | 10:06 PMWATERFORD -- The Badger football team was two minutes away from an outright Southern Lakes Conference championship Friday night.
Clinging to a 3-0 lead, Waterford's only chance was to drive 80 yards against a stingy Badger defense which hadn't given up much of anything all night.
However, after two incomplete passes, a 59-yard run on third and 10 set up a 21-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan Danbrea, and the Wolverines took a 6-3 lead with 1:23 to play.
After Waterford botched the extra point, Badger still had a chance for a game-tying field goal. But Waterford executed an onside kick, gained a first down and time ran out.
Waterford improved to 7-1 overall and won the SLC title with a 7-0 record. Badger dropped to 6-2 overall and 6-1 in the SLC.
Prior to the final drive, Waterford punted three times and turned the ball over twice in the second half. After both Robert Johnson's fumble recovery and Trent Bobula's interception, the Badgers had the ball in Waterford territory but couldn't score.
"There's no way we ever should have been in that situation," Badger coach Matt Hensler said regarding Waterford's final drive. "Our offense was very, very poor tonight. It's two years in a row the offense has stubbed its toe."
It was the second straight year Badger has lost to Waterford, which beat Badger, 7-0, a year ago in the regular season finale. The teams shared the Southern Lakes crown last year.
For as effective as Waterford's defense was, Badger's was equally as impressive. Before Waterford's final drive, Badger had allowed only 140 total yards.
With 5:35 left in the second quarter, the Badger defense stuffed Waterford on fourth and 1, giving the ball back to the offense at its own 40-yard line. Badger embarked on a 12-play, 60-yard drive, culminating with a 28-yard Tom Ritzman field goal as time expired.
Badger's first big play highlighted the drive. Facing a third and 10 from its own 49, Badger quarterback Peter Krien rolled right and threw the ball back across the field to Matt Reynolds, who made a leaping grab over a Waterford defender at the 25-yard line. On fourth and 9 from the 11 with three seconds left, Ritzman's kick cleared the bottom goal post by a couple feet.
With 3:25 left in the game, a key sack by Badger's Matt Brumm and Jeremy Fischer forced Waterford to punt. On the ensuing Badger possession, the local boys attempted to run out the clock, and Waterford exhausted all three of its timeouts.
But on Waterford's final possession, Alex Thomaschek took a draw play up the middle, bounced it outside and raced down the right sideline, breaking several tackles in the process. On the next play, Danbrea similarly ran up the middle and cut it outside for the score.
Thomaschek led all rushers with 95 yards. Badger was held to 114 rushing yards, with Johnson's 40 leading the way. Krien ran for 30 yards on 13 carries.
Defensively, Andrew Cychner led Badger with 10 total tackles. Reynolds added seven tackles.
Badger will now play the waiting game, with the WIAA playoffs beginning next Friday. Badger will most likely compete in Division 1.
Check Wednesday's Regional News for more on Badger and its playoff seeding.
Other area scores
Big Foot 49, Palmyra-Eagle 19
Cambria-Friesland 18, Williams Bay 13
Evansville/Albany 42, East Troy 32
Wilmot 48, Delavan-Darien 12
Burlington 49, Union Grove 20
Elkhorn 49, Westosha Central 35
Jefferson 55, Whitewater 7