With 76 seconds remaining in the game and Arrowhead's No. 4-ranked football team hanging on to a precarious 13-7 lead, it appeared visiting Waukesha West was ready to put the winning points on the scoreboard.
The Wolverines, after delivering a brilliant second-half performance when they held the defending WIAA Division 1 state champion scoreless and to just 81 yards, started that final series in great field position, taking over the ball at the West 45-yard line with 3:34 left in the game.
On first down, senior running back Elijah Fort, the leading rusher in southeastern Wisconsin, gained 10 yards, and that was followed by a second run for no gain. On the next play, sophomore quarterback Conor Blount tossed a 26-yard pass to junior wideout Chase Scharnek, giving West new life and a first down at the Arrowhead 19-yard line.
Fort gained one yard on the next play, and that was the last hurrah for the Wolverines. On the next play, Arrowhead linebacker Sam Seonbuchner, who will play at Iowa State next year, put a big rush on Blount and forced him to throw the ball higher and earlier than he wanted.
With two AHS defenders all over junior end Dyson Chmura, Arrowhead senior Charlie Reuteman intercepted the pass at the goal line and returned the ball to the 26-yard line, where the Warhawks ran out of the clock to preserve the Classic 8 Conference victory.
'We thought we could take some shots and Arrowhead did a great job of bringing guys off the edge,' said West coach Steve Rux. 'They have some talented players who are able to get past us and hit the quarterback. Our quarterback stood in there and had an opportunity to make some completions that we've got to be able to make. Overall, I thought our guys battled throughout the game and gave us a chance to win. We just have to make a couple of more plays.'
Friday's loss was the first of the season for West, who went into the game ranked 11th in the state in last week's AP Large School poll. West is now 5-1 overall and 3-1 in league play. Arrowhead leads the league at 4-0, and West and Catholic Memorial are next at 3-1.
The Wolverines will host surprising Waukesha South (4-2, 2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Too many turnovers
Five turnovers ended up too costly to West. Arrowhead finished the night with five interceptions, including three on West's first three possessions of the game. The Warhawks scored their only two touchdowns after the first and third interceptions to lead 13-0 at halftime.
Arrowhead's first score came on a 30-yard pass from Blake Mielke to Ricky Finco, and the second came on a 36-yard pass from Mielke to end Jake Miller. AHS missed its extra point kick after the second score, opening the door for a possible West victory.
After netting just 94 total yards in the first half against the stellar Arrowhead defense, the Wolverines turned the tables on the Warhawks in the final two quarters and finally hit the scoreboard.
After their first series of the second half ended in a punt, the West defense held AHS to a three-and-out and regained possession of the ball at the Arrowhead 47-yard line.
Putting together one of their best scoring drives of the season, the Wolverines ran off 14 plays, finally hitting the end zone when Blount scored on a sneak from the 1-yard line. Ben Milzer's kick cut the West deficit to 13-7 with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter. Three times in that drive, West converted 4th-and-1 plays to keep the scoring march alive.
The Wolverines had the ball three more times in hopes of winning the game. Two of those drives ended in interceptions and a third stalled when West was forced to punt.
The West defense had a very good night, getting a fumble recovery from senior tackle Austin Vetta and an interception by Ar'Breon Dunson-LIlley.
Fort finished the game with some good numbers. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder finished with 152 yards on 33 carries.
Memorial survives scare
Catholic Memorial scrambled to register an overtime win over Kettle Moraine — a team now 0-4 in conference — on Friday.
Memorial tied the score at 14-14 when Ty Schmitt scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds to play. Zach Fridl's extra-point kick tied the game and forced overtime.
In the extra period, Memorial scored on its fourth play after converting a 3rd-and-12. The touchdown came when Tommy Garza scored on a 4-yard run.
On Kettle Moraine's possession from the 25-yard line, a third-down pass intended for Andrew Trafton came up inches short, and on fourth down, Mitch Pfeiffer's pass was intercepted by Jake Shomin to end the game.
Isaiah Pitchford led Waukesha South with 140 yards rushing on 22 attempts, but an early lead dissolved against Mukwonago in a 54-28 loss.
'Obviously we have some things to work on and there areas for us to improve,' South head coach Dave Rusch said. 'You can't win many games giving up those kinds of big plays.'
North still searching
After a 41-14 loss to Muskego, Waukesha North fell to 0-6. Marion VanSchaick has 276 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Classic 8 Standings