Goslings drop homecoming battle with Oregon, suffer first league loss
Watertown’s offense arrived fashionably late to its own homecoming party, and that allowed Oregon to crash it.
The Goslings spotted the Panthers short field after short field to trail 17-0 late in the first half. They scored 20 unanswered points to take a second half lead, but Oregon responded with two fourth quarter touchdowns for a 31-20 Badger South victory on Friday at Landsverk Field.
Watertown (6-2, 5-1 in conference) trailed 24-20 and was driving for the go-ahead score when Oregon senior defensive end Nate Ellingson intercepted junior quarterback Ethan Pauly’s third-and-goal pass in the end zone with 2 minutes, 39 seconds remaining.
Oregon (6-2, 5-1) iced the game when senior quarterback Nolan Look busted off a 76-yard touchdown run with 1:09 to go, as the Panthers handed Watertown its first league loss of the season.
Pauly completed 18-of-40 passes for 201 yards including three touchdowns to junior receiver Kory Stas, but also threw four interceptions.
Ellingson came up with the last pick, on a play from the 5-yard line where Pauly was looking to hit senior running back Brian Katzenberger in right corner of the end zone.
“We had a grizzly package,” Watertown football coach Benji Kamrath said. “We decided to go with double tight, two wings. We ran a dive for a first down two plays (earlier). If I could take it back, I wish I would have called outside zone Q (a designed run for Pauly to his left) the opposite way, but I was trying to run away from 32 (senior linebacker John Klus), because he’s a damn good player.
“We ran outside zone Q into the boundary and then I just didn’t give us enough room. I thought I could run (the pass play) on third down, so if we didn’t get it, we’d still have another play. The kid in the corner (Ellingson) came off of his man. I thought Katzenberger was open. We just missed it. The kid made a good play. It was unfortunate, but they did a good job on that play.”
Aside from Look’s game-breaker run in the closing moments, Oregon never once drove the length of the field, a credit to a stout performance by Watertown’s defense.
But that defense got hung out to dry several times in the first half due to offensive miscues.
Oregon began its first offensive series at Watertown’s 22-yard line. Pauly overthrew his receiver and senior defensive back Carson Smedley came up with a shoestring interception near midfield and returned it nearly 30 yards.
The Panthers were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal by senior kicker Jack Haufle with eight minutes left in the opening quarter.
Watertown junior defensive lineman Klayton Kopet dropped senior running back Keion Szudy for a 3-yard loss on second-and-goal from the 5, and Oregon senior running back Gabe Pearson dropped a wide open pass in the end zone on third-and-goal.
While the offense floundered, the defense forced two punts and got a third stop in the red zone when senior safety Karl Stadler recovered a fumble.
But the Panthers intercepted Pauly twice in Watertown territory on the next two series and scored touchdowns after both takeaways.
Sophomore receiver Evan Pauly bobbled a pass near the far sideline which was intercepted at Watertown’s 27. Oregon punched it in four plays later when Look hit Szudy with a quick pass in the right flat on a fourth-and-5 play for a 21-yard touchdown. Haufle’s point after made it 10-0 with 5:47 left in the half.
On Watertown’s next series, Klus stepped in front of a slant pass intended for junior receiver Daniel Denault and returned the interception to the Goslings’ 22. The Panthers capped that drive with a quarterback dive by Look on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and it was 17-0 Oregon with 1:44 left in the half.
From there, Ethan Pauly showed the resiliency he has all season and directed an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive just before halftime.
The Goslings looked like the Goslings on this series.
Pauly opened by connecting with Stas for 7 yards on a slip screen. Two plays later, he put a wheel pass on target to Katzenberger for a 26-yard gain to Oregon’s 32.
Denault drew contact near the goal line on a fourth down pass to set Watertown up first-and-10 from the 12 and two plays later, Pauly found Stas in the left corner for the touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Senior kick Paul Kujawski’s kick sent the Goslings into the break trailing 17-7.
The Goslings struck quickly to start the second half. Senior defensive Jarek Lytle intercepted a deep shot by Look at Oregon’s 48 on the second play from scrimmage.
Pauly was sacked to set up third-and-17, but a 14-yard pass to Katzenberger turned into first-and-10 from the 17 after a horse collar tackle. Two plays later, Pauly hit Stas on a slant pass at the 5, and Stas spun off of two tacklers at the 2 and dove in for a 15-yard touchdown. Kujawski’s point after attempt was wide right, leaving the score 17-13 with 8:34 left in the third.
Oregon managed one first down and punted, and the Goslings took their first lead with a six-play, 53-yard drive.
Denault picked up eight yards for a first down, Evan Pauly gained another 8 with his first catch of the night and Ethan Pauly converted a third-and-1 with his legs to set the Goslings up at Oregon’s 44.
On the next play, Stas took another slant pass to the house. He initially bobbled it, then secured it and raced untouched to the end zone to complete an electric hat trick. Kujawski’s extra point put Watertown in front 20-17 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
With the rain starting to pick up, Watertown forced a three-and-out and missed a chance to extend the lead. After a false start penalty and two straight incompletions, the Goslings punted and Kujawski’s kick was partially blocked.
Oregon took over at Watertown’s 43.
Evan Pauly read a naked bootleg by Look from his linebacker position and dropped him for a huge 5-yard loss to set up third-and-13, but Look threaded a pass for senior Carter Erickson for a 21-yard gain to the 4. Lytle appeared to have a play on the ball, but it just got through his hands to Erickson, who sprinted down near the goal line.
Senior running back Dylan DiMaggio scored on a dive one play later and Haufle’s kick put Oregon back in front 24-20 with 8:32 to go.
“They ran a waggle pass,” Kamrath said. “It went through our corner’s hands. I thought Jarek had a good chance on it, but with the conditions, it slipped through. They caught it and got it inside the 5 and found a way to put it in.”
Denault returned to the ensuing kickoff to Watertown’s 38 and Ethan Pauly made two huge gains on the ground to put the Goslings in position to take a late lead.
On fourth-and-2 from his 45, Pauly made a defender miss near the line of scrimmage and picked up 12 yards. Two plays later from Oregon’s 40, Pauly ran for five more tough yards and 15 more were tacked on when Klus hit him out of bounds.
The Panthers were flagged for pass interference on a fourth-and-11 play to extend the drive. Junior Jacob Crogan’s number was called on a crucial fourth-and-1 dive and he picked up 3 to move the ball to the 8.
Pauly was limited to three yards on his next two carries, setting up Ellingson’s drive-killing pick.
Stas led the receiving corps with six catches for 86 yards. Katzenberger caught four passes for 56 yards and Denault had four catches for 23 yards. In addition to his passing, Pauly led Watertown on the ground with 14 carries for 48 yards.
Look finished 7-of-18 passing for 83 yards with one interception and one touchdown. DiMaggio had four catches for 35 yards. Up until Look’s long scoring run in the final moments, the Panthers had been held to less than 200 yards from scrimmage.
“I told the kids I was proud of the way we came back, down 17 points,” Kamrath said.
“We got the huge score right before half, then get a stop, get a score, get a stop, get a score … we just changed momentum.
“We got the ball up when we were up 20-17 and we just overthrew a slip screen wheel which I think could have put us up 10 if we hit it. Again, at that time, the rain was coming down, those were tough conditions. I thought Ethan still played like a warrior tonight. We ran him a lot. He got hit a lot. We played in some tough conditions.
“He gave us a chance there at the end. We just didn’t come away with it.”
Watertown hosts Monona Grove in the regular season finale next Friday. The defending league champion Silver Eagles have clinched a share of the conference title after beating Stoughton 42-7.
“I know we’re going to respond,” Kamrath said. Everybody knows if we find a way to get a win next week it will be a three-way tie for the conference title. I’ve watched these guys (Oregon) play against Monona Grove and played them really well. I think they were pretty evenly matched. I think we’re going to be evenly matched. It’s a matter of who makes fewer mistakes and more plays down the stretch.”
Oregon 31, Watertown 20
Oregon 3 14 0 14 — 31
Watertown 0 7 13 0 — 20
First downs 10 15
By rush 6 5
Buy pass 3 5
by penatly 1 5
Yards rushing (att-yds.) 37-185 29-80
Yards passing 83 201
Attempts 18 40
Completions 7 18
Had intercepted 1 4
Total yards 268 281
Penalties, yards 9-107 4-25
Fumbles, lost 1-1 2-0
O — Haufle 24 FG
O — Szudy 21 pass from Look (Haufle kick)
O — Look 1 run (Haufle kick)
W — Stas 7 pass from Et. Pauly (Kujawski kick)
W — Stas 15 pass from Et. Pauly (kick failed)
W — Stas 44 pass from Et. Pauly (Kujawski kick)
O — DiMaggio 3 run (Haufle kick)
O — Look 76 run (Haufle kick)