Keying in on Whitnall’s explosive big-play offense that had put up 85 points in its last two contests, a stifling Wauwatosa West defense made the Falcons scratch and claw for every yard Friday night.
But thanks to workhouse back Travis Karweik and an equally stout performance from the Falcons defense, it still wasn’t enough.
Karweik rushed for 114 tough yards on 32 carries, including the decisive one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal in overtime to propel host Whitnall to a 13-10 Woodland-Black conference victory.
“Tonight was a knock-down, drag-out, fight; they have some speed over there and were able to match up with us on the perimeter,” said Whitnall head coach Rob Leboeuf. “They were going to make sure we had to work it down the field and take away our vertical shots.”
Whitnall (3-1, 3-0) didn’t need to take any shots down the field on its first possession, opening the game on a bruising 18-play, 80 yard touchdown drive capped by a one-yard Karweik run that chewed up most of the first quarter.
But Tosa West (1-3, 1-2) would answer with a touchdown of its own in the second quarter, with junior Mickey Morgan scooping up a backward pass from quarterback Jared Morzinski to tie the score at 7. Players on both sides appeared to stop as they anticipated an incomplete pass call while Morgan fielded the bounce and scampered into the end zone for a 22-yard scoring run to knot the score.
While Tosa West would continue to move the ball on the ground behind a multitude of backs, the Trojans struggled to finish drives against the Whitnall defense, stalling out inside the Falcons 10-yard line just before halftime and again in overtime when they settled for a 25-yard Morgan field goal to take a brief 10-7 lead. Sophomore Greg Lewis led the Trojans with 62 yards on eight carries.
The Trojans pass offense also struggled, with Morzinski passing for just 37 yards on four of seven passing.
“We talked to our defense about taking big plays away and we were able to do that; they have played well all season and done everything that we’ve asked of them,” said Wauwatosa West head coach Matt Good. “We just need to find ways to finish our blocks and put more points on the board.”
That defense was able to cool off red-hot Whitnall quarterback Luke Mentkowski, holding him to 110 passing yards after he had thrown for 685 yards and five touchdowns in victories over Cudahy and St. Francis coming into Friday’s contest.
“They have a really good defense, and they seemed to know what we were doing," Mentkowski said. "They were bringing blitzes up the middle and forcing me out of the pocket.vBut our defense won us this game today. They played a great game.”
With just three returning starters on offense from last year, Whitnall moved to 3-0.
“I’m proud of our guys and the way we have started the season, especially with the youth and some of the injuries that we have,” said Leboeuf. “We are really optimistic about the future but we also have a lot of things to fix.”
Both teams will play at home next Friday, with Whitnall hosting Greenfield and Wauwatosa West taking on New Berlin Eisenhower.