Friday night's game between Wauwatosa West and Greendale was like a championship fight.
Back and forth, the Trojans and Panthers delivered blow after blow to one another, but in the end it was Tosa West who provided the knockout punch and was left standing in a classic high school football game.
Robert Davis’s interception in overtime sealed Tosa West’s 37-30 win, moving the Trojans to 6-1 and leaving the Panthers still one win shy of a playoff berth.
“I’m so proud of our guys, the way they competed,” Tosa West coach Matt Good said. “They had a couple of chances to fold up, and they stuck to their guns and they played hard. I’m so proud of our guys right now.”
It was an ending you almost had to see to believe.
It appeared as if Tosa West was going to cruise to an easy victory after going up 30-14 with just 8:24 to play.
Greendale didn’t quit.
The Panthers cut the lead to 30-20 on sophomore quarterback Josh Ringelberg’s third touchdown run of the day. Ringelberg hit senior tight end Peter Pekar for the two point conversion to make it 30-22.
That left Greendale coach Rob Stoltz with a decision to make. He called an onside kick that his team recovered to start the game, but this time he chose to kick it deep and trust his defense.
They didn’t let him down, forcing a Tosa West punt. The kick bounced all the way down to the Panthers’ five yard line, leaving 95 yards and a 2-point conversion to go for a tie.
Converting a fourth down and sparked by a 38 yard pass to senior wide receiver Gaelan Seibold, Ringelberg found the end zone for the fourth time, this time from one yard out with 26 seconds to play.
Ringelberg then tossed a bubble screen to junior wide receiver Nate Miller who plowed his way just over the goal line on the two point conversion, tying the game at 30-30.
The game seemed headed for overtime.
But the way this game was going, the drama wasn’t over.
Senior Mickey Morgan returned the kickoff all the way to the Greendale 12-yard line with just 15 seconds to play, almost breaking the return for a touchdown.
After an incomplete pass, Tosa West botched the snap on the field goal, causing Zach Veit’s kick to be way off.
The Trojans got the ball first in overtime and didn’t waste any time.
Junior quarterback Jared Morzinski hit junior running back Jameson Brock for a 25-yard touchdown on the very first play of overtime.
The Trojans’ defense had one more chance to stop Greendale and they didn’t fail.
After a penalty, senior linebacker Jon Doolen sacked Ringelberg for a loss of eight. On second and 23, Ringelberg was intercepted by Davis to end the game.
It was Greendale’s fifth turnover. The Panthers also committed 11 penalties for 65 yards.
“The last month that’s what it has been, turnovers and penalites,” Stoltz said. “The excuses are over. You have to put up or shut up at this point. Period, that’s it.”
It was a turnover that also changed the momentum early. Driving and already up 7-0, Greendale fumbled deep in Tosa West territory and prevented itself from pulling out to a comfortable early lead.
“I thought we came out pretty flat,” Good said. “I thought the way it started that we were going to be down 42-0 at halftime.”
In the end, it’s another chapter in the turnaround story Tosa West is writing in 2012. The senior class had seen only two conference wins in its previous three seasons at the school.
“These seniors the last four years have been through a lot,” Good said. “We’ve pushed them hard, they’ve pushed themselves and I think you saw the result of their resiliency. They know not to quit and they know what kind of team they have.
“Our kids believe in themselves. When it is game time and the lights come on, they are something special. We’ve told them that from the beginning and we got to say it again tonight.”
Like Tosa West, Greendale is now in an unfamiliar position.
The perennial Woodland power now sits at 4-3. A 4-4 record might get the Panthers into the playoffs, but to lock up a berth, Greendale must beat Brown Deer in the season finale.
“Finally for the first time in a month we showed some resiliency and a competitive spirit,” Stoltz said. “That’s encouraging to see because we were like wet fish for the past couple weeks.
“It showed us as coaches that this team has some fight left in them and the bottom line is, if you have some fight you have a chance.”
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