Angels slip past Warriors in Level 4 classic
WAUKESHA — Mishandled snaps plagued Racine St. Catherine’s quarterback Da’Shaun Brown in a second round playoff loss to Lake Mills last season, and the ball wasn’t any easier to handle in icy temperatures on Friday night.
“Definitely the coldest game I’ve played in,” Brown said. “My hands were cold, the exchanges were cold, everything was just cold. Every time I hit the ground, I thought one of my limbs was about to break. That turf was super hard with the ice and the snow, and the blizzard didn’t make it any better, but we got through it and won. We hot now. It ain’t no being cold now.”
Four shotgun snaps got away from Brown and the first three were drive-killers. But Brown overcame the miscues, the elements and the most successful Lakeside Lutheran team in program history to lead the Angels to a 30-28 Division 4 Level 4 victory at Waukesha North High School.
The 21-degree temperature mixed with periodic flurries looked to be a perfect formula for a power running team like Lakeside Lutheran (11-2), and the Warriors enjoyed a 28-14 lead after senior running back Casey Ponyicsanyi’s second touchdown run of the night with 5 minutes, 4 seconds left in the third quarter.
Racine St. Catherine’s (13-0) scored the final 16 points, including the game-tying touchdown and game-winning two-point conversion with 32 seconds remaining, to reach the Division 4 state title game against St. Croix Central on Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison at 7 p.m.
The Warriors prevented the high-scoring Angels from hitting the big play all night, with the longest play covering 30 yards on the final drive.
They also did a respectable job bottling up the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Brown, a Division 1 recruit who has offers from six teams. The senior signal-caller was 3-of-6 for 68 yards passing and rushed 13 rushes for 78 yards. He ran in two-point conversions three times, including the last one to put the Angels up by two in the closing seconds.
Junior running back Isaiah Dodd hurt Lakeside with 37 carries for 221 yards and three touchdowns.
“They keyed on me well,” Brown said. “They kept me inside. That’s what teams do. That’s how they contain me. They keep me inside, but they took their mind off Dodd and Dodd showed them why they shouldn’t do that.”
Both teams lost a fumble in this one and both led to scores.
Lakeside opened the game with a 13-play, 50-yard drive, but senior quarterback Jack Monis fumbled. The Angels recovered at their own 20 and marched 80 yards. Dodd’s 7-yard TD run broke a scoreless tie, but the point after attempt was wide left, leaving the score 6-0 with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
The Warriors responded with a 72-yard scoring drive to take the lead. Monis, who finished 7-of-9 through the air for 81 yards, stood tall in the pocket on a fourth-and-five play at RSC’s 40 and delivered an 8-yard strike to senior Will DeNoyer to move the chains.
Six plays later, Monis found senior tight end Cameron Paske wide open over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown. Sophomore kicker Tersony Vater was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points on the night and gave the Warriors a 7-6 lead with 8:48 left in the first half.
Paske then made a play on the defensive side of the ball, ending St. Catherine’s ensuing drive by tackling Brown for a 4-yard loss on a fourth-and-four play at Lakeside’s 17.
The Warriors cashed in after that stop in just four plays. Monis again went to DeNoyer to move the sticks with an 11-yard pass on third-and-ten from the 21, and on the next play Ponyiscanyi busted a dive run 68 yards to the house. Vater’s kick made it 14-6 with 2:54 left in the half.
Lakeside repeatedly went with squib kickoffs to take away St. Catherine’s dangerous return game. The Angels took over at the 40 on the next series and reached the red zone before being turned away just before the half ended.
Brown had a 4-yard touchdown run wiped out by a penalty. On the final play of the half, Brown’s pass intended for Azarien Stephens was broken up by senior Brevin Jegerlehner and intercepted by DeNoyer in the end zone.
The Angels got the ball to start the second half and tied the game with a 60-yard drive.
Brown’s first completion of the night went to Aleks Haeuser in the flat for 18 yards, setting up Dodd’s 10-yard TD run with 7:56 left in the third quarter. Brown gained the edge on the left side for a two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14.
Lakeside answered with another home run off the dive play. Junior running back Carter Buchta did the honors this time, hitting the second level off the right side and going in from 65 yards out. Vater’s kick put the Warriors up 21-14 with 7:06 left in the third.
The Warriors quickly went up two scores after Brown lost the handle on one of those shotgun snaps and senior lineman Charlie Miller recovered at the St. Catherine’s 13.
Three plays later, Ponyiscanyi scored standing up from 1 yard out. With five minutes left in the third quarter, Lakeside’s bid for a trip to Camp Randall appeared within sight.
The Angels had other ideas.
Brown had his team’s longest run from scrimmage on the next drive, taking a shifty run into the open field for 24 yards. Dodd capped the drive from 7 yards out and Brown picked his way in up the middle for a two-point run to cut Lakeside’s lead to 28-22 with 1:55 left in the third.
The Warriors committed just five penalties for 25 yards in this one, but two of them came on the next series and led to a punt.
From there, Lakeside’s defense came up big one last time.
Another bad snap left the Angels facing fourth-and-seven from their own 48. Brown looked downfield, then spun away from pressure and broke contain. But Ponyiscanyi ran him down short of the marker and Lakeside took over at midfield 8:37 to go.
A 16-yard run by Monis had Lakeside in business at St. Catherine’s 29, but the Angels stuffed Monis for a 2-yard loss on third-and-seven, then dodged a bullet on the next play.
On fourth-and-nine, Paske won on his route angling for the left corner, but Monis barely overshot him and St. Catherine’s took over at the 29 with 4:30 to go.
St. Catherine’s fifth penalty of the game, a false start, left the Angels staring down fourth-and-eight from their own 43.
Brown found Haueser on a play action pass for 25 yards along the sideline to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, he rolled right and hit Stephens dragging for a 30-yard pickup to the 6.
After recovering a mishandled snap on the next play, Brown flipped the ball to senior Rashid Poole on a reverse, and Poole wheeled around the left side for the game-tying score.
“We had that in the book all year,” Brown said.
“We were just waiting for the right moment to pull it out and that was the exact right moment to pull it out. We needed it. That’s an MVP play right there. He buckled down and got that touchdown for us.”
Brown finished this one off, faking the dive before plowing in around the left side for the game-winning conversion.
Lakeside took over at its own 36. Monis completed 3-of-4 passes to get the ball to St. Catherine’s 31, but on the final play of the game, Monis was hit and fumbled as he tried to buy time for a desperation heave.
It was a tough ending for a senior class that lived up to high expectations by leading the Warriors to a Capitol North title and the program’s first-ever trip to Level 4.
That didn’t make it any easier for the Warriors to leave the field. Senior Caleb Raymond, a two-way lineman, was the last Lakeside player to leave it.
“It’s been a dream to play with my brothers out there,” Raymond said. “It just stinks that it’s over.
“All credit to them. They are a great offense. All glory to God. Praise him in the wins. Praise him in the losses. Best wishes to them going on to state. It’s a bummer we couldn’t finish it in the places we needed to.”
Lakeside rolled up 3,198 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns in its third year running the veer offense. Ponyicsanyi had 16 carries for 118 yards while Buchta had 10 rushes for 102 yards. Paske caught four passes for 50 yards and DeNoyer added three catches for 31 yards.
“Absolutely,” Raymond said when asked how much fun it was to run that dive play. “It’s been the bread and butter for us. Veer is like novocaine. Just give it time. It will work.”
Lakeside Lutheran football coach Paul Bauer praised his players for an outstanding season despite the difficult ending.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Bauer said. “They played hard and came real close. Four touchdowns apiece … it came down to the three two point conversions that they got. In the end, their athletes made more plays. They made some great plays at the end. (Our senior class), it’s a close bunch. They took the loss real hard. Most will be on to the next season come Monday, and that will be good … get their mind off it and get on to something else.”
St. Catherine’s 30, Lakeside Lutheran 28
Lakeside 0 14 14 0 — 28
St. Catherine’s 6 0 16 8 — 30
First downs 17 22
Yards rushing (att-yds.) 37-253 54-317
Yards passing 81 68
Attempts 9 6
Completions 7 3
Had intercepted 0 1
Total yards 334 385
Penalties, yards 5-25 5-45
Fumbles, lost 1-1 1-1
RSC — Dodd 7 run (kick failed)
LL — Paske 17 pass from Monis (Vater kick)
LL — Ponyicsanyi 68 run (Vater kick)
RSC — Dodd 8 run (Brown run)
LL — Buchta 65 run (Vater kick)
LL — Ponyicsanyi 1 run (Vater kick)
RSC — Dodd 7 run (Brown run)
RSC — Poole 7 run (Brown run)