WALWORTH – The Chiefs were down 7-2 with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter, Friday night. The Platteville Hillmen had just botched a punt attempt from their own four yard-line and taken a safety – a punt was likely to give the Chiefs good field position with time to score.
Big Foot took over at their own 18-yard line and drove. A 13-yard bullet from Chiefs quarterback Brett Morris on third and seven brought the Chiefs to the 30. After a one-yard loss on a stuffed rush by Chiefs running back Tim Long, Morris completed another big pass that moved the Chiefs to the 50.
With 2:15 left in the fourth, 50-yards to drive and a stifled running game, the Chiefs decided to go with what was working at the moment – quick, deep passes.
Morris took the snap, dropped back in the pocket and fired.
The Hillmen intercepted at their own 32.
Platteville drained the clock down to 18 seconds before the Chiefs took over on downs.
“Every coach has a play for this situation,” said Williams Bay football coach Derek Diehl who was standing behind the fence that separated the field from the stands. He had come to Walworth to watch the game.
The Chiefs attempted a toss – stuffed for no gain. Second and 10 – illegal procedure against Big Foot. Seven seconds left in the game. Second down and 15 – false start Chiefs. Second and 20, one last try – a deep pass.
Time and the Chiefs’ season expired.
The No. 1 ranked Chiefs lost 7-2 to the Hillmen in the WIAA Division IV quarterfinals.
It was an ice-cold night. The temperature dropped below freezing with the wind-chill, and before the last drive, deep passes had been unsuccessful.
The temperature and a strong wind from the south wreacked havoc on both teams’ passing games.
Last week, the Clinton Cougars loaded the box against the Chiefs to stymie Big Foot’s potent running game, but great performances from both Morris and running back Brandon Hausner were more than able to make up the difference in a 38-7 blowout.
Friday night was a different story.
A stuffed rushing attack without a potent passing game to keep the Hillmen linebackers guessing and open things up in the middle, left the Chief’s high-powered offense dead in the water.
Long still managed 98 yards, but averaged only 3.8 per carry, significantly lower than his 7.4 season average.
Morris who had an explosive night against Clinton – six completions in 10 attempts, 184 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions – completed only 30 percent of his passes against Platteville for 75 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
His stunning 143.8 passer-rating against Clinton dropped to 21.9 against the Hillmen. Hausner, who had 136-yards and two touchdowns against Clinton, managed only 20 yards against Platteville.
Big Foot’s offense couldn’t get it together.
“We didn’t execute the little things, so I’m not making excuses because we made too many mistakes,” Chiefs head coach Rodney Wedig said after the game. He referenced the illegal procedure and false start penalties on the Chiefs final drive.
The mistakes were costly, but perhaps more costly was a controversial ball placement with 5:48 left in the forth quarter that gave the Hillmen the ball at their own four-yard line after 60-yard drive by the Chiefs.
It was the Chiefs’ finest and most consistent drive of the night, but it ended four-yards short of the endzone when the officials placed the ball inches shy of the first down. A pass from Morris on fourth and nine seemed to be a yard past the marker to Wedig and his coaching staff, but the receiver was marked down short and Platteville took over.
Wedig said his team had trouble adjusting to the close-game atmosphere.
“We got off to a poor start,” Wedig said. “We had some injuries.”
He said that Platteville didn’t do anything on defense that he didn’t expect.
On the other side of the ball, however, the Chiefs performed well. The Hillmen’s star running back William Cooley, who compiled 22 touchdowns and 1,730 yards this season (144.2 yards per game), was held to 98 on 26 attempts. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry. Other than Cooley’s one touchdown, he and Long had identical nights statistically.
The Chiefs had 174 total yards and the Hillmen had 192. Both offenses struggled and both defenses performed well, but Platteville was able to score on an 80-yard drive and Big Foot was not. Friday’s loss was the Chiefs’ only loss of the season. They ended the season 11-1. Platteville (8-4) plays Roncalli High School in Watertown at 7 p.m. on Friday in the state semi-finals.