D-2 Football Playoffs: Eagles clip Flyers
HUMPHREY -- A controversial call, or non call as it will surely be remembered, set off a run of three straight Johnson-Brock touchdowns and allowed the Eagles to hold off a late charge from Humphrey St. Francis in Monday’s Class D-2 semifinal in Humphrey.
What appeared to be an interception by St. Francis defensive back Taylor Wemhoff was deemed a 9-yard catch for Johnson-Brock instead, setting up the Eagles for a touchdown two plays later and breaking a 28-28 tie early in the second half.
Johnson-Brock added two more on its next two drives then answered back-to-back St. Francis scores with one final trip to the end zone for a 58-44 win.
The victory sends the Eagles to Memorial Stadium in a week where they will play for their first-ever state championship against Mullen, 36-24 winners over Lawrence-Nelson.
Humphrey St. Francis ended the season 11-1 and one win short of playing for the program’s fifth state championship. The Flyers were last in the title game three years ago, winning 22-20 over Chambers-Wheeler Central.
One play likely didn’t decide the game, but the controversial decision by the referees early in the third quarter is one that will no doubt live on in infamy in the minds and hearts of St. Francis players, coaches and fans.
Down 28-22 at halftime, St. Francis tied the game 28-28 on Trevor Pfeifer’s 2-yard touchdown run with 9:42 left in the third quarter.
The defense forced a Johnson-Brock fumble on the third play from scrimmage after halftime, then Pfeifer capitalized four plays later after setting up the score on his 56-yard screen pass to Wemhoff.
Johnson-Brock took the ball back and immediately advanced into St. Francis territory with a 25-yard pass play to Kaden Glynn. Quarterback Cole Fossenbarger then threw his first interception of the season when Wemhoff stepped in front of the receiver and came up with the ball.
The only trouble was, the referees didn’t award the Flyers the ball. Despite the Eagle receiver being behind the play, and seemingly not getting a piece of the ball, it was ruled a simultaneous catch and given to the offense.
As coach Eric Kessler jumped up and down on the sidelines and pleaded with the officials to talk it over, all that was reviewed or discussed was bringing the chain gang out to measure for a first down.
It was a yard short. A holding call on the St. Francis defense two plays later gave Johnson-Brock the yardage needed then Dylan Rowe went in from six yards out to make it 34-28 after the 2-point conversion was missed.
The Flyers threw an interception on the next drive that the Eagles turned into another touchdown behind 44-yard pass the very next snap. A 2-point pass made it 42-28.
St. Francis failed to convert a third-and-3 on its next drive and punted it away to a Johnson-Brock offense that used seven plays, the final six through the air, to make it 50-28 on another 2-point conversion pass late in the third quarter.
The streak of 22 unanswered points finally ended when Jarrett Weidner caught a pass for 66 yards, Pfeifer went 4 yards then dove across the goal line on second-and-goal. His 2-point conversion pass to Weidner cut the deficit to 50-36.
The Eagles drove all the way down to the Flyers 1 on the next drive but were turned away on fourth down. That stop turned into a St. Francis touchdown 12 plays later thanks to Weidner’s 46-yard cath on the first play after the stop and Pfeifer’s 5-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
The Flyers overcame a holding call, Pfeifer seemingly threw an interception on fourth down, but Johnson-Brock was called for a hold setting up Pfeifer’s score.
With just under six minutes to go, the lead was trimmed to 50-44.
Just when the Flyers needed one more stop, the Eagles put together four first downs and a 20-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10 to seal the victory.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair. The lead changed hands six times with Johnson-Brock scoring the final touchdown of the first two quarters with 1:29 remaining.
The Eagles started the scoring with a 41-yard punt return touchdown that set off seven straight drives with scores until St. Francis tossed a later interception with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Fossenbarger went 29 for 39 passing for Johnson-Brock with 383 yards and five touchdowns. Kaden Glynn caught 14 of those passes for 169 yards and three scores.
Pfeifer carried the ball 20 times and put together 113 yards with three rushing touchdowns and one through the air. Wemhoff carried it 22 times for 116 and two touchdowns.
Pfeifer was 9 of 16 through the air with 217 yards.
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com