TREYNOR — Treynor had six second-half possessions Friday night as they hosted Underwood in a pivotal Class 1-A District 9 matchup of undefeated teams. The first five ended: punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, and they had gained just 36 yards.
But, with just 5:03 left and trailing 20-17, the Cardinals started their sixth drive from the Underwood 44. Ten plays later (including a crucial 4th-and-1 at the 20), quarterback Jake Fisher took an option play to the right, used a great block from Will Halverson, and punched in the go-ahead, game-winning touchdown from six yards out.
“We couldn’t buy a first down before that. They made some really good adjustments at halftime on us,” Treynor coach Jeff Casey said. “That last drive, when I called timeout, I just looked at the kids and said, ‘Are we going back to what we do?’ And they said, ‘Yep, let’s do it.’”
“We needed to adjust, and we made adjustments,” Underwood coach Nate Mechaelsen said. “The kids battled.”
The game pitted two of Class 1-A’s top ranked teams, and both squads dominated moments of the game. Early, it was the No. 7 Cardinals.
Treynor took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards on seven plays. The Cardinals changed some things up and took Underwood by surprise.
“They came out and kind of hit us with some stuff early that we weren’t prepared for. They went I-formation for the first time all year,” Mechaelsen said.
Casey said his team wanted to give a different look, and they were successful. Senior Jack Tiarks was the workhorse on the opening drive carrying the ball six times for 60 yards and the 1-yard score on a drive that took just 2:46 off the clock.
No. 9 Underwood had plenty of chances in the first half. After an opening three-and-out, the Eagles found themselves in Treynor territory consistently. The next two drives ended up with interceptions deep in Cardinal territory followed by a turnover on downs at the Treynor 20.
“It was frustrating” Mechaelsen said of Underwood’s early struggles on the Cardinal side of the field. “At the same time, you need to stay positive. We know what we have offensively, and we knew it was just a matter of time before we capitalized on some of those things.”
Trailing 10-0, the Eagles did finally capitalize and appeared to seize momentum heading into halftime. With two seconds remaining in the first half, Eagle quarterback Nick Ravlin found Blake Hall in the back corner for a 5-yard touchdown strike.
Underwood squibbed the kickoff, and Treynor fell on the ball at their own 43-yard line with one second remaining. Leading 10-6, were the Cardinals going to kneel on the ball?
Casey’s answer was quick and emphatic, “No.”
“We had the wind, and Jake’s got a cannon,” Casey said.
After taking the snap, Fisher rolled slightly to his right and launched a pass down the right side to a streaking Jack Stogdill who hauled in the pass at the 5-yard-line and scored with zeroes on the scoreboard.
“We talked all week about scramble drill because we know the arm Jake has. We told them before we broke the huddle, listen, he can throw it to the endzone,” Mechaelsen said. “He’s got a cannon for an arm. They got behind us, and it was a perfect throw and a great catch.”
Casey was a little shocked at the outcome, but he realized just how important the score was.
“I don’t know how that happened, to be honest with you,” he said. “It was kind of demoralizing when they scored. You could just see the energy go out of the kids, and all of a sudden the energy flips and goes back up on that last play.”
The score put the Cardinals up 17-6 at the half, but the Eagles weren’t done.
“I thought the way we responded and really dominated that third quarter was telling of the heart our kids have,” Mechaelsen said.
While the Underwood defense was keeping them in the game, the offense finally found a way to capitalize. With 3:15 remaining in the third quarter Ravlin found Brayden Wollan for a 40-yard strike that brought the Eagles within five at 17-12.
While the Eagles continued to have trouble finishing inside Treynor territory, Ravlin found Wollan from long distance for another score with 5:12 to go, this time from 73 yards. This score put the Eagles in the lead for the first time at 20-17.
Casey had nothing but positive things to say about Underwood.
“Underwood is an unbelievable team. They’re going to be playing in November, I am confident of that. Our kids they tightened up when Underwood drove on us.They are well coached.”
Ravlin finished 13 of 29 on the night for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions. Scott Pearson led the Eagles on the ground with 91 yards on 15 carries.
Coach Mechaelsen knows his team still has a lot to play for.
“The kids are hurting right now. They’re (Treynor) a heck of a football team, and we showed a tremendous amount of fight. The sky is not falling. We’ve got a lot to play for these next three weeks and I said you do your job, and they continue to win, this might be a game we revisit down the road.”
Underwood (5-1, 1-1) 0 6 6 8 — 20
Treynor (6-0, 2-0) 7 10 0 7 — 24
T: Jack Tiarks 1 run (Jack Stogdill kick good)
T: Luke Mieska 32 kick
U: Blake Hall 5 pass from Nick Ravlin (Kick no good)
T: Jack Stogdill 57 pass from Jake Fisher (Stogdill kick good)
U: Brayden Wollan 40 pass from Ravlin (Try no good)
U: Wollan 73 pass from Ravlin (Hall 2-pt try from Ravlin)
T: Fisher 6 run (Kick good)