No. 2 Flyers end Riverside’s 43-game win streak
HUMPHREY -- Trevor Pfeifer made plays all night for the Humphrey St. Francis offense, whether it was powering up the middle on a quarterback sneak or maneuvering around pressure to make a big-time pass.
But his biggest play may have been on the other side of the ball.
Pfeifer blocked a punt midway through the third quarter to set up the go-ahead touchdown, and the Flyers ended a 43-game winning streak for Riverside 44-34 in a matchup of undefeated teams in Class D2-4 district play at the Ed Foltz Sports Complex.
Coming into the night, St. Francis was rated second out of area eight-man teams and fourth statewide in Class D2, while Riverside was fifth statewide according to the Omaha World-Herald. The Chargers had won the last four-straight six-man state championships, including three-straight undefeated seasons, before moving up to eight-man this season.
“It’s just special,” Pfeifer said. “It was a team effort, completely. Our linemen did their job. Everybody followed and did their job as well after the linemen, because everything starts with our ground game, obviously.”
Riverside coach Joe Imus said there was no emotion about the winning streak coming to an end.
“It’s not disappointing at all,” he said. “We rarely, if ever, talk about winning. We stick to our guns that we control what we can control, and everything else takes care of itself.”
Pfeifer ended with 136 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries, and he also completed 4 of 7 passes for another 106 yards and a score. He accounted for 242 of the team’s 316 offensive yards.
Riverside had the advantage offensively, outgaining the hosts 401-316, but were done in by nine penalties which cost 75 yards. As a team, Riverside rushed for 288 yards -- led by Ty Martinsen’s game-high 147 yards and Michael Bernt’s 113 yards, with both getting 21 carries. Those two accounted for all five Riverside touchdowns.
“They’re awful good,” Kessler said. “It’s a battle to try to get them off the field because they’re so good offensively, and they did some nice things defensively tonight as well.”
Before that blocked punt, it was a one-handed catch by running back Taylor Wemhoff coming out of the backfield that was the talk of the night. Wemhoff’s snag of a Pfeifer pass -- one play after Pfeifer plunged for a fourth-down conversion -- helped the Flyers tie the game at 22 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
After the blocked punt, Jarrett Weidner rushed the final 20 yards on back-to-back carries for the lead-taking touchdown with 5:01 left in the third quarter -- just 28 seconds after Pfeifer’s play.
“That was a big play. It changed the momentum,” St. Francis coach Eric Kessler said about the blocked punt. “We kind of punched them, and they took it and came back, and they were kind of establishing things. That was a big momentum play.”
None of that would have mattered as much if the defense hadn’t come through on the next possession. Martinsen found Tredyn Prososki open in the far corner of the end zone for a touchdown, but an incomplete pass on the two-point conversion kept the Flyers in front.
Pfeifer snuck it in from 2 yards away to cap an 11-play drive to begin the fourth quarter, but Martinsen answered to end a 12-play drive for Riverside with 5:02 left in the game. But this time, Wemhoff batted away a two-point attempt, keeping the Flyers in front 36-34.
Then St. Francis put the game out of reach when Pfeifer dragged a Charger with him into the end zone on an 8-yard scoring jaunt with less than three minutes remaining. Pfeifer connected with Wemhoff after scrambling on a screen pass, and the two-point conversion provided the final margin of victory.
“We haven’t seen a team like this all year,” Imus said. “We saw a lot of things that were positive for us, and we saw some things that are fixable that we can get better at.”
Leading 14-8, St. Francis nearly put together a sterling goal-line stand to end the first half.
From the 1-yard line, Bernt lost half a yard on first down, prompting Riverside’s final timeout with 14 seconds left. He was bumped out of bounds for no gain on second down, and his third-down pass into the end zone was batted away. But on fourth down, after a false-start penalty backed up the Chargers, Bernt scrambled away from pressure around the far corner and into the end zone with no time on the clock. Bernt added the two-point conversion for a 16-14 halftime lead.
The Chargers didn’t waste any time to begin the second half, with Martinsen taking the first carry for a 68-yard touchdown, but failed on the conversion to keep the Flyers within a possession.
Moments later, it looked like Riverside would seize control when Martinsen picked off Pfeifer’s pass at the St. Francis 25. But the Flyers forced an incompletion on fourth down, leading into another momentum change.
“We made some plays when we needed to,” Kessler said. “That’s a credit to our kids. That’s what you have to do in these types of games. It was an even match today, I’d say.”
Riverside (6-1) 8 8 12 6 -- 34
St. Francis (7-0) 8 6 16 14 -- 44
RIV: Ty Martinsen 6 run, Tredyn Prososki pass from Michael Bernt, 4:05.
HSF: Trevor Pfeifer 45 run, Jarrett Weidner pass from Pfeifer, 3:48.
HSF: Pfeifer 24 run, PAT failed, 5:56.
RIV: Bernt 6 run, Bernt run, 0:00.
RIV: Martinsen 68 run, PAT failed, 11:41.
HSF: Taylor Wemhoff 34 pass from Pfeifer, Wemhoff pass from Pfeifer, 6:32.
HSF: Weidner 2 run, Weidner pass from Pfeifer, 5:01.
RIV: Prososki 30 pass from Martinsen, PAT failed, 2:19.
HSF: Pfeifer 2 run, PAT failed, 9:07.
RIV: Martinsen 1 run, PAT failed, 5:02.
HSF: Pfeifer 8 run, Wemhoff pass from Pfeifer, 2:56.