New Berlin Eisenhower avoided being eliminated from the WIAA playoffs Friday, thanks in large part to the career night of junior running back Nick Taylor. He finished his night with 243 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns, with 112 yards and two of those touchdowns coming in the fourth quarter.
The Lions defeated Milwaukee Pius in a Woodland Conference test, 43-26.
Taylor's first rushing touchdown, a 72 yard-run at the 6:50 mark of the second quarter, set the tone offensively for the Lions for the remainder of the game.
“My linemen set that block perfectly, and I just waited for it to set up and just hit it and gone,” said Taylor.
The running game wasn't just Taylor. New Berlin Eisenhower came into the game determined to get back to running the football, and the Lions finished with 469 yards on the ground. Senior fullback Anthony Stewart, who returned from injury, had 59 yards and a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to help New Berlin Eisenhower put away the game late. Overall, New Berlin Eisenhower head coach Jeff Setz felt as if his team accomplished what it wanted offensively.
“We have established ourselves as a running team through the years but unfortunately we haven't been really successful with it this year," Setz said. "But we got our fullback back tonight, and that made a big difference for us.
For Pius, the story of this game was blown opportunities and dropped passes -- 10 all told, of which several would have been touchdowns. The biggest blown opportunity came late in the third quarter. After senior quarterback Conner Senger found junior wide receiver Christian Garcia for a 37-yard touchdown pass to give the Popes a 20-14 lead, Pius kicked off with a low line drive that barely crossed the 20.
One problem: the entire New Berlin Eisenhower return team forgot that kickoffs are live balls, and Pius recovered at the 14-yard line. After a defensive pass interference that moved the ball to the 7-yard line, Senger threw a costly interception in the back of the end zone which halted any momentum the Popes had.
“That would have put us up by two scores," said Pius coach George Machado. "You know, we were pretty tough offensively, and they made a big blunder there. I don't know why we didn't pick it up and just run it in. But we got on it and a our quarterback thought he saw something and made a bad throw."
Pius junior kicker Christian Fritz-Klaus was involved in a scary collision near the sideline early in the fourth quarter and had to be carted off the field, with no immediate word on his injury.
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