It’s not often a kicker goes 1-for-3 and gets the game ball. But it was Pewaukee sophomore Jacob Stern’s 26-yard field goal with three seconds left that resulted in just that, as the Pirates edged host New Berlin Eisenhower on Friday night, 9-6.
“Supposedly I won the game for us,” Stern said after being mobbed by his teammates. “But I’ve never missed this much in my life.”
Tied 6-6 with just over three minutes to play, the Lions attempted to convert a fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line. The Pirates defense stuffed a quarterback keeper, giving their offense a short field to set up Stern’s game-winning attempt.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Stern said. “Obviously, I hope we get a touchdown on that last drive, because it’s my team, but I knew that if I got the chance to kick it, I’d make it. The difference between the one I missed and that one was that I took about five minutes to prepare. I just tried to clear my head. I prayed to God I’d make it.”
Stern missed a 25-yard attempt in the second quarter and later missed an extra point after Pewaukee’s only touchdown of the night, a 14-yard touchdown pass from senior Brock Bateman to junior Derek Folkert.
Nevertheless, Pewaukee head coach Clay Iverson said he never hesitated in sending Stern back out to win it.
“I knew he’d make it,” Iverson said. “I knew he wouldn’t miss two in a row. He rarely misses one in a row. We practice kicks every day, and he almost never misses. You don’t stop calling a certain play because someone misses a block, so you have to trust your kids.”
Eisenhower took a 6-0 lead in the second quarter on a 21-yard touchdown pass from senior John Crowley to sophomore Dylan Petre. A 2-point conversion attempt failed, but the Lions held the lead until midway through the fourth quarter when Bateman found Folkert on a fade in the left corner of the end zone.
Eisenhower head coach Jeff Setz regretted the aggressive decision to go for it on fourth down late in the game.
“We got too greedy,” he said. “That was a big mistake. I thought our line play fell apart a little toward the end. Once Pewaukee got a little more aggressive, our pass protection suffered. I knew they were a good team though. They’ve played a much harder schedule than we have, and I knew tonight wouldn’t be easy.”
Iverson said the win was a big step forward for a team coming off losses to Greenfield and Arrowhead.
“I was surprised they went for it,” he said. “Fortunately our defense came up with the stop, but that’s a heck of a team, and [Crowley] is a heck of a player. You obviously don’t want to be 0-3. So we’re a lot happier tonight, but it’s one game. We’ll continue to get better”
The mood in Eisenhower’s locker room was somber, but Setz believes he has a resilient group that won’t be derailed by one stumble.
“It’s a sad ending to a tough game,” he said. “It hurts tonight. But it’s one game. We’ll look at it and be back here tomorrow morning, and the sooner we get over it, the better off we’ll be.”
Pewaukee senior Alec Henderson had a game-high 85 yards on 15 carries. Eisenhower was led by Crowley, who rushed 11 times for 37 yards and went 4-of-12 passing for 106 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The Pirates return home next week to face Saint Francis (1-2), while Eisenhower (2-1) travels to Greendale (1-2).
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