Homestead's power ends Germantown's title hopes
Highlanders score three TDs in five plays
Germantown - When in doubt, trust your players.
And that's exactly what veteran, state championship-winning Hall of Fame coach Dave Keel did Oct. 11, as with his offense stuck in reverse in the first half (15 plays for just 26 yards) against archrival Germantown, the Highlanders needed a jump-start after a scoreless first half.
"The kids made a couple of suggestions," Keel said. "They said the sweep might be open and then Jay (running back) Schneider went and made us look like geniuses."
That he did.
Sweeping into the lead
Because Schneider took the ball on the first play of the second half from his own 19-yard line on that very sweep call.
He broke one arm tackle, juked another defender ("I did a little shake n' bake on him," he chuckled afterward) and found himself in the clear for an 81-yard touchdown run that launched the Highlanders to a stunning 28-7 victory over the Warhawks.
The win secured the Highlanders of at least a share of their 12th straight North Shore Conference title.
Schneider's run was the start of a spectacular first three minutes of the third quarter for the Highlanders, as on Homestead's second play of the half, quarterback Nick Allen hit a wide open Jabree Washington on a circle route and Washington sailed in for an easy 41-yard TD.
And just three plays later, after Allen had hit back Shaquille Cole with a 41-yard pass to the Germantown 2-yard line, Allen called his own number on an option and scored easily.
21 points in just six minutes
It was a stunning turn of events, as after 24 minutes of doing virtually nothing, Homestead, in the space of 6:04, had gained 164 yards in just five plays and scored three TDs in the process.
The Highlanders were ahead 21-0 and would never be challenged again, as Homestead (6-1, 7-1) earned the right to be called champion and the Warhawks (5-2, 6-2) lost out on a chance for their first title since 2002.
Homestead's win was vengeance for two defeats in a row to Germantown, including a searing thumping in the regular season closer last year.
"That third quarter?" said Germantown coach Jake Davis. "I just don't know what happened. We played one good half and then one really bad half. Like I told other people, it would come down to four or five big plays. I just didn't know that they would all come so quickly."
"And we had our opportunities."
Warhawks threaten on offense
That it did as Germantown (5-2, 6-2) knocked on the door three times in the first half, getting the ball to the Homestead 24-, 23- and 25-yard lines on three possessions.
Each time the Warhawks were turned back, mostly with the help of a relentless Highlanders defensive front. Sophomore lineman David Pfaff got the honors the first time, smacking Warhawks quarterback Dwayne Lawhorn Jr. hard up the middle on a bull rush, forcing a fumble and a 12-yard loss on a third-down play.
That was an ignominious end to a promising opening drive for Germantown. The effort had consumed 12 plays but after that fumble, the Warhawks were forced to punt.
On the second series, the Homestead defense rose again as the Warhawks had gotten great field position on a short punt at the Highlanders 45.
But on a fourth-and-6 play from the Homestead 23, Warhawks coach Jake Davis eschewed the field goal, and a deep Lawhorn pass to the front of the corner of the end zone was incomplete.
The Warhawks sideline howled for an apparent interference penalty on the play, but no call was forthcoming.
Giving one more chance
The Germantown defense gave the Warhawks offense one more chance as defensive back Tyler Palzkill snagged an errant Allen pass with just 49 seconds left in the half and returned it to the Highlanders 25.
But after two incompletions, another third-down sack of Lawhorn cost the Warhawks 10 yards. Lawhorn's half-ending desperation bomb to the corner fell incomplete as the hard-working Highlanders defense had given the team a chance.
The Homestead offense could especially take pride in its second half. Germantown closed the gap to 21-7 early in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard Mason Yahr to Nick Holcomb touchdown pass.
Yahr had come in a bit earlier after Lawhorn had been injured on a 36-yard run that set up the Warhawks' only score.
"Mason did a nice job of handling himself after he came into a tough situation," said Davis.
That was as close as the Warhawks would get.
Schneider finished with 108 yards rushing on just six carries.
Allen completed only two passes but they went for 82 yards. Meanwhile the Highlanders defense harried the normally effective Lawhorn into a discouraging six of 24 night for only 61 yards, Yahr had the same number of yards on four of six attempts as Tyler Baran rushed for 72 yards on 23 carries for the Warhawks.
Germantown would have only 92 yards rushing on 33 attempts.
The Division 1 WIAA playoffs are up next for the Warhawks, and Germantown will host City Conference champion Milwaukee King at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. He did get some good news in that Lawhorn's ankle injury did not appear to be as serious as first thought.
"Our kids are resilient," Davis said. "It's an interesting situation. Part of us has to remember why this happened and part of us to forget and move on."
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