Waunakee pulls away from Watertown for 37-7 win
WAUNAKEE — This went a lot better than last season.
Granted, Watertown still lost to Waunakee and it wasn’t close. But the Warriors pounded the Goslings 63-0 last season on their way to winning the Division 2 state championship.
By contrast, Watertown’s 37-7 loss at Waunakee on Friday had at least a few positives.
For one thing, it took the Warriors awhile to put this one away. They led just 6-0 with over five minutes left in the second quarter before closing the half with 24 unanswered points.
The Goslings had success through the air, with junior quarterback Ethan Pauly completing 14-of-32 passes for 187 yards. They made it into the red zone twice in the first half and appeared to score twice before having those touchdowns wiped off the board.
Pauly’s 10-yard pass intended for sophomore receiver Cade Oiler in the end zone was deflected, yet Oiler trapped the fluttering ball between his legs and appeared to secure the catch before officials ruled the play incomplete. The Goslings later turned the ball over on downs when Pauly’s rollout pass intended for junior Daniel Denault was off the mark with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.
Senior lineman Alex Nachtigall recovered a fumble on Waunakee’s next series and Watertown reached the Warriors’ 15. This time, Denault beat man coverage and made an over the shoulder catch in the end zone for the apparent score. But a chop block penalty put the Goslings in third-and-long, and one play later senior kicker Paul Kujawski’s field goal attempt was blocked.
The Warriors took the game over from there. They drove 55 yards following the blocked field goal and scored on senior quarterback Jarrett Wulf’s 3-yard TD run and went up 13-0 with 5:15 left in the half.
Senior defensive lineman Reed Ryan sacked Pauly twice inside the 10 on Watertown’s next series. After a 20-yard punt return set the Warriors up at the 20, Wulf hit senior tight end Austin Keller on a slant pass on the next play to make it 20-0 with 4:02 left.
Waunakee forced Watertown into two more punts before the half and capitalized both times. Wulf found senior receiver Sawyer Maly on a skinny post for a touchdown for the second time in the half to make it 27-0 with 1:33 left.
The Warriors reached Watertown’s 22 on the next series before settling for senior kicker Nathan Stevens’ 41-yard field goal which just cleared the crossbar to make it 30-0 with 19 seconds left before halftime.
Wulf and Maly connected for a third touchdown in the third quarter to start the running clock. Watertown avoided the shutout when Pauly rushed for a 5-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we came out and played with a lot of heart and toughness,” Watertown football coach Benji Kamrath said. “Waunakee has an outstanding team.
“We were able to move the ball the majority of the first half. We had a couple big penalties which hurt … the chop block on the touchdown to Denault was tough. (On the other play), I thought Cade caught it but the back judge did not. We went for it on fourth and rushed the throw. I thought we had Danny on the arrow route, but he might have gotten his head around a little late and Ethan threw it a second too quick. Those are two plays you’d like back. It could have been a much different game.
“Against really good teams, if you make mistakes, they are going to capitalize. Late in the second quarter, we got pinned inside our side of the field and gave them two short fields. It went from 20-0 to 30-0 right before half. It could have been 20-14 going into the half.”
Maly caught five passes for 134 yards. Wulf completed 12-of-15 passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Junior running back Will Ross carried the ball 18 times for 158 yards.
Senior running back Brian Katzenberger was held to 11 carries for 15 yards but led the Goslings in receiving with three catches for 52 yards. Denault caught two balls for 38 yards. Oiler had three catches for 46 yards.
“I was proud of the way our kids responded after halftime,” Kamrath said. “We told the kids we can fold right now or find a way to scratch and claw back. We played with lot of heart. They got their second string guys in there late. When they are two platooning on us, it started catching up with us late in the second quarter. We were gassed and trying to hang on going into halftime.
“We had a number of positives. I was pleased with how we were able to control their run game. They had lot of yards, but we had several stops and some tackles for losses.
“We got beat over the top on several post plays, three to be exact where they got us. We have to work on that. Their quarterback threw on the money, and their receivers made good moves to get themselves open in space. When you are playing 7 on 7 in the box, you are going to have 1 on 1s, but I was proud of the way we played. The score was much closer than it seemed. We matched up closer than we have in the past.
“I think we still have a really good football team. We have things to clean up. It was a good test. Good teams exploit your weaknesses, but we exploited their weaknesses. We created turnovers and couldn’t capitalize. We had two or three really bad plays, whether it was missed formations, or assignments, or bad snaps, we pinned ourselves back. You can’t do that against a good team.”
Senior safety Karl Stadler led the defense with 13 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Evan Pauly had nine. Nachtigall had eight. Denault had seven. Senior lineman Tyler Bartz had six. Kujawski came up with a 59-yard punt from the back of the end zone late in the first half.
Watertown travels to face Fort Atkinson in the Badger South opener on Friday.
“I think our kids are very positive and know we have a lot of potential to do some good things,” Kamrath said. “We just have to learn from those mistakes and move forward.”
Waunakee 37, Watertown 7
Watertown 0 0 0 7 — 7
Waunakee 6 24 7 0 — 37
First downs 11 15
By rush 1 11
By pass 6 4
By penalty 4 0
Yards rushing (att-yds.) 21-21 37-242
Yards passing 187 248
Attempts 32 17
Completions 14 13
Had intercepted 1 1
Total yards 208 490
Penalties, yards 8-85 11-125
Fumbles, lost 2-1 2-2
WK — Maly 28 pass from Wulf (kick blocked)
WK — Wulf 3 run (Marek kick)
WK — Keller 20 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)
WK — Maly 31 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)
WK — Stevens 41 FG
WK — Maly 15 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)
W — Et. Pauly 5 run (Kujawski kick)