The streak goes on
MENOMONIE - "The last six years have taught our kids how to win and we expect to do so."
When a football program won so many times in row in the regular season, there's a confidence and knowledge built into a player for four seasons, and perhaps even longer than that, that no matter what happens through the course of any game, they know they can win.
Thus, Plum City head coach Troy Ingli recent statement during a preseason interview isn't an idle boast so much as reflection of the belief the Blue Devils have in themselves when it comes to the basic match-up after years of doing so. And that belief persisted despite outmanned by Spring Valley up front and missing one of their starters due to suspension for Friday evening's ballgame in the Gridiron Classic at UW-Stout's Williams Stadium.
However, Spring Valley also believed it was going to win and snap PC's regular season win streak at 43 and it looked that way for much of the second half, leading 14-6.
But Plum City was able to add with belief the knowledge of winning which made the difference according to Spring Valley head coach Matt Ducklow as the Blue Devils rallied for a 20-14 victory in overtime.
"It's a big edge in their favor," Ducklow said. "We believed we were going to win and they did too but they know how turn belief into action and we haven't reached that point consistently yet they way they have."
Describing the action
The action came down to two plays in overtime, one a fourth down and one-yard stop by the PC defense of the Cardinals' first possession. The second was nicely timed shovel pass from Blue Devil quarterback Alex
Gilles to wide receiver Tyler Churchill in the back of the end zone, also on a fourth down and one play near the goal line.
Gilles had to make a quick decision of either try and dive into the end zone with a Redbird defender in front of him or make the toss as Churchill got open in s split second
"There wasn't much time to make decision and I saw him break open with someone right front of me and tossed it towards Tyler," Gilles said. "It was a good toss and I'd say there was a little bit of luck too."
Yes there's luck involved, good for the winners and bad for those on the other end. Spring Valley was driving when a fumble on a bad exchange was recovered by Plum City on its own 45-yard line. Then change of momentum energized PC and its Northwestern-style spread began to click again with the running of Gilles, running back Ryan Gillman and two critical receptions by Lance Von Holtum, one of which was eight yards for a touchdown. Gilles threw to Churchill for the two-point conversion to tie the ballgame with two minutes to go.
Churchill amassed 14 of PC's 20 points as he scored the game's first touchdown 53 yards on a short pass from Gilles. He gained 133 yards on seven receptions while Gilles threw for 190 yards. Gillman finished with 67 yards rushing on 20 carries
"It's a good thing we had the scoreboard at our backs in the fourth quarter," Ingli joked afterward. "But we knew we weren't out of it and the guys played that way. The refused to quit and they refused to lose. I thought Alex really grew into a leader tonight. We had to do some different things to negate their size advantage up front and by the fourth quarter it was working for us and give credit to our two biggest linemen, Tyler Klinski and Matt Heath, because they really played hard tonight."
The taste of ashes,/b>
If defeat has a bitter taste it was made worse for Spring Valley because they dominated much of the second half.
Down 6-0 at halftime, Valley controlled the ball for 9:03 of the third quarter, a drive capped off by Kyle Bosshart's nine-yard touchdown run. Valley kept the ball on the ground and chewed up the clock but wideout Ted Anderson made several key catches to keep SV's drives going and had 96 yards receiving on the night. And he also short circuited Plum City drives by preventing their receivers from making catches.
"Ted's a great athlete and obviously he's our No. 1 option when it comes to passing," Ducklow remarked. "But you saw tonight too what great defender he is with some of the plays he made."
Ducklow acknowledge PC's passing game and the Cards inability to stop it, Churchill in particular, did the most damage. Turnovers did their part too. Not only did Spring Valley fumble to set up the game-tying scoring drive for the Devils, but they also gave up the ball deep in PC territory just before the end of the first half. Thus, there was no score that would have put PC behind by two touchdowns and put more pressure on them to come up with winning plays.
"You'd think when you control the ball for over nine minutes in the third quarter you're in pretty good shape," Ducklow said., "and we were until we gave it away with our mistakes. When it came down to execution, you can see why they win so often and why it's a struggle for us because they play hard, they know they can win and they do it. We play hard and we know we can win, but don't always do it and that's what has to change."
Bosshart led Spring Valley with 72 yards rushing while Newton threw for 129 yards