Fourth down stop leads to big road playoff win for Whitefish Bay football team
Hosts Waukesha West Friday in Level 2 game
"It was surreal," was all Whitefish Bay football coach Jim Tietjen could say about it.
So let's give credit to all parties involved in the crazy and intense ending to the Whitefish Bay football team's 6-3 WIAA Division 2, Level 1 road playoff win over Wilmot Union last Friday.
Credit to Wilmot for driving from its 45-yard line to the Bay 3-yard line in the waning moments trailing by that 6-3 score.
Credit to the Panther coaches, who instead of going for the point-blank game-tying field goal, which almost certainly would have resulted in an overtime session, went for the win on fourth and goal from the three.
But ultimate credit goes to the Bay defense, who stuffed the hard-charging Wilmot runner on that fourth and goal play at the two, preserving a remarkable first-round playoff victory for the sturdy Blue Dukes.
"It was a heck of a call on their part," Tietjen said. "I was really surprised that they didn't kick the field goal.
"They got the first and goal on the seven. They got zero yards on a run on first down, two yards on a run on second down and three yards on a run on third down. On fourth down, they called a time-out. Then we called a time-out after watching them set-up.
"They set up in a power-I and they put their big defensive lineman in the backfield and they gave it to him. We knew that they had done this before. The kid had about 100 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the season."
"All I could think of afterward was 'Holy .... we stopped them!'"
With that, the Blue Dukes, who have struggled mightily all season to overcome the graduation losses from the best team they ever had last season, found themselves with a very respectable 7-3 record, and a home Level 2 playoff game against Classic 8 Conference power Waukesha West (8-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Players keep busy
The win also ended a long day for Bay, said Tietjen.
The students were off from school, so to keep his players focused, Tietjen got them all together for the usual game-day breakfast at Jack Pandl's Whitefish Bay Inn and then had them do some community service work. About 40 of them helped with the gutting and decorating of pumpkins for Bay's annual Great Pumpkin Festival.
"There's one with a blue hat and a mustache and it's supposed to look like me," said Tietjen with a laugh.
The bus ride to Wilmot was long (an hour and 20 minutes) and Bay arrived to a newly-renovated campus that was rebuilt with the help of a $39 million referendum that according to Bay AD John Gustavson passed by about four votes.
"They say every vote counts and in this instance it did," Gustavson said.
That project included a fine multi-purpose turf field that the two defenses took full advantage of.
Bay's Tyler Terveer forced a fumble on the second play of the game and Bay recovered it at the Panther 20. The Blue Dukes eventually settled for a 22-yard Collin Downing field goal.
Later in the second, after a Bay fumble, Wilmot tied the score on a field goal. But shortly before the half Downing gave Bay what would prove to be the winning points on a 30-yard field goal.
All told, Bay had just 159 total yards while Wilmot (6-4) had 129.
"We were really flying to the ball," Tietjen said. "That was the difference in the game. I really think our defensive quickness was the difference. We only had one really super solo shot (by linebacker Ben Lehrmann), but the rest of the plays, you saw six, seven, eight guys rallying to the ball."
The Panther defense was equally tenacious.
"They had touted it during the seeding meeting," Tietjen said.
Bay also had a touchdown called back by a penalty. Joe Sherburne and Tommy Friesch had good individual plays offensively.
"But no one could really sustain anything," Tietjen said.
Which eventually led to that final drive and final stand.
"We did a good job of managing the game and stealing a victory on the road," Tietjen said. "The kids worked hard and we're not to nicked up heading into this week against a top-seeded team.
"We got to the next level and now we have another game in front of us."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Dixon's rally keys Bay wrestling team's 41-33 win over Germantown
- Sports Wraps: Dec. 3
- Bay earns three All-Suburban football honors
- West girls beat Dominican, 38-36
- Sports Wrapups: Nov. 26
- Tall, experienced Bay basketball team aiming for another good season
- Sports Shorts: Nov. 21
- Whitefish Bay football team succeeded in spite of large graduation losses
- Whitefish Bay 200 free relay places fifth at state
- Sports Shorts: Nov. 14