Visiting New Berlin West gave undefeated Pewaukee all it wanted on Friday.
Trailing 27-24 with less than a minute remaining, New Berlin West junior quarterback Dylan Wiese got a first down at the Pewaukee 22-yard line on 4th down and one. On the next play, his pass near the side line wobbled and was intercepted by Pewaukee senior defensive back Austin Schroeder, who returned the ball 90 yards.
The final score read 34-24 for the Pirates, but it wasn’t easy.
“It was a game that could have gone either way," West coach Al Moroder said. "We had a chance to the end and if that pass goes a different way, maybe the result would be different, but they made a play when they had to. “That’s why we play and what Friday nights are all about.
Pewaukee trailed 17-7 at the half but got rolling early in the third quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run from junior running back Ryan Stepanovich. On the opening drive of the second half, Stepanovich had a 40 yard run before junior running back Collin Sternad set up first and goal with a 15-yard run up the middle for the hosts. Stepanovich had another touchdown with 5:55 to play in the third quarter, scampering 49 yards for the score.
The Vikings (3-4) scored first, getting a short touchdown run from junior James Fortier, who later left the game with a concussion. Later, junior kicker Nathan Henrichs made good on a 27-yard field goal for a 10-0 Vikings lead.
Pewaukee got on the board on a 4th down and 10 play with senior quarterback T.J. Watt passing to senior wide receiver Dan Kemp for a 29-yard touchdown with 11:48 showing in the second quarter.
New Berlin West went back up 10 points on a 65-yard Fortier pass to junior wide receiver Scott Reichel with 10 minutes remaining before halftime.
The Vikings’ highlights didn’t shock Pewaukee head football coach Justin Friske in the least.
He witnessed his team fumble the ball three times in the first half and get flagged for several infractions, including offsides, false starts and holding.
“That team’s good; we could see it on tape and as the season has went on, they’ve only gotten better,” Friske said. “They’ve got 16 players that have experience under their belts even though a lot of them are juniors. They’re well-coached and disciplined, plus we were hurting ourselves with the turnovers and penalties.”
Pewaukee, owners of at least a share of the Woodland Conference West Division championship, finishes off regular season play with a game at Cudahy on Oct. 12.
New Berlin West hosts Whitnall for a playoff berth Oct. 12.
“They’re a playoff team if I’ve ever saw one,” Friske said. “If they don’t get in, I’ll be very surprised.”
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