It wasn’t pretty, but in the end New Berlin Eisenhower scored the deciding touchdown with 7 minutes, 8 seconds left in the game and nipped New Berlin West, 21-14, on Friday at Eisenhower.
The Lions evened their record at 2-2 in the Woodland Conference West and the Vikings dropped to 1-3.
"This was sorely needed," Ike veteran coach Jeff Setz said. "We’ve been struggling all year long. To get some wins and bring it home — we’re lost two home games already, this is our third one in four games and we needed this very, very badly."
First-year West coach Al Moroder complemented the Lions afterward.
"They’ve always been a good program," he said. "It’s just a manner of us finishing the game."
The Vikings could have won this game had they not kept shooting themselves in the foot.
They took the first possession and went 80 yards in seven plays, with quarterback James Fortier accounting for 58 yards on a beautiful keeper play. Fortier then scored on a one yard run, and Nathan Henrichs kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 8:53 left in the first period.
West then intercepted an Eisenhower pass, and it was returned for a touchdown, but the Vikings were called for a block in the back. The Vikings got the ball on the 24-yard line and fumbled the ball to Eisenhower’s Brendan O’Brien, who played a great game defensively.
Trailing 7-0 going into the second quarter, the Lions took their first possession of the second quarter and went 31 yards in seven plays. Junior quarterback Vince Gabrielson tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nick Holicek in the right corner of the end zone, and Nathan Erickson’s kick tied the game with 7:57 in the half.
West then fumbled the ball two plays later on its own 25, and Gabrielson and Holicek hooked up again for a score and a 13-7 lead. Ike went for a 2-point conversion and failed.
Fortier then took the Vikings 82 yards in seven plays, the last 15 coming on a Bryan Watson touchdown run around the left side for a 14-13 lead with 3:57 left in the half.
Eisenhower then made a huge stop with 4:15 left in the third quarter, when the Vikings went for it on 4th and 3, and O’Brien stopped Dylan Wiese for no gain, giving the Lions the ball on the 45-yard line.
"I have confidence in my team to get four yards anytime I ask them to," Moroder said when asked why he didn’t play it safe and punt.
The Lions went 45 yards in eight plays, with Steve Harrell running in a 7-yard touchdown run and Gabrielson combining with Harrell on a 2-point conversion for a 21-14 lead.
Neither team could move the ball in the final three possessions, and the Lions had a hard-fought, but sloppy victory.
"Our defense has been sound all year long," Setz said. "We’ve been putting them in difficult positions because of turnovers and lack of offense. Tonight we made some big fourth down plays. Not just at the end of the game but in the third quarter as well."
Moroder praised the play of defensive end Nate Latus and defensive back Trenton Krickeberg, who came up with a big interception.
"He made a heck of a play," he said. "We named him a captain this week and he showed it.
"We’ve been pushing all week to embrace the winning mentality. We need to clean some things up. We needed to stop the rushing on the edge and we did that pretty well.
"I’m proud of the steps we’re taking but we certainly have to get a win."
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