JOHNSON CREEK — There was less than a minute to play until halftime and the Johnson Creek Bluejays were down by one touchdown.
It appeared as though their sluggish start wasn’t going to derail them and that they would start the second half down only seven points.
Junior quarterback Joshua Bauer orchestrated a four-play drive that covered 68 yards in 32 seconds to give Oshkosh Lourdes a two touchdown lead into halftime before finishing off a 27-7 victory in the second half against host Johnson Creek on Friday night.
Senior Justin Swanson punted the ball away to give Oskhosh Lourdes the ball on their own 32-yard line with under a minute to play in the first half. Bauer threw an incompletion on first down before he completed a nine-yard pass to Preston Ruedinger on second down.
Facing a third and short, Bauer went back to the air. The Johnson Creek pass rush flushed him out of the pocket, but he found senior Caden Chier deep over the middle for a 49-yard gain. One play later, Bauer completed a pass to Nathan Slagter, who broke the plane with 17 seconds to play in the half and the Knights had a 14-0 lead.
Oshkosh Lourdes scored in two plays on its first drive, too.
The Bluejays went into break stunned. Johnson Creek (7-1, 4-1 Trailways Small) had two false starts that made it difficult to pick up first downs against Lourdes (8-0, 4-0) on its first two drives. The Bluejays ran 16 plays on their third possession and converted three fourth downs, but a 4th-and-2 from the 8-yard line resulted in a turnover on downs.
On the first three four downs, Swanson, the senior quarterback and reigning Trailways Small Player of the Year was able to push his way forward with designed quarterback runs. The fourth fourth down Johnson Creek went with a pass and Swanson overthrew senior Isaiah Wollet.
Swanson and the Johnson Creek offense showed its ability to score quickly but it after Bauer and Slagter re-connected for a 20-0 lead with 3:19 to play in the third quarter.
Swanson completed a 42-yard pass to Howie Olszewski, who fell and was able to keep one leg in play as he fell out of bounds, giving Johnson Creek its only touchdown and making the score 20-7 with 1:52 to play.
The Bluejays appeared to have a chance, but Lourdes countered with its physical rushing attack. Tim Kaull carried the ball 17 times for 83 bruising yards which gave the Johnson Creek interior trouble. As the defense pulled in reinforcements to stop the run, the Knights were able to hit the edge with jet sweep action from receivers Chier and Ruedinger.
Swanson had 17 carries for 59 yards to lead the Bluejays attack. He completed 5 of his 14 passes for 92 yards.
The victory effectively gave Lourdes the Trailways Small title as the Knights (8-0, 4-0) will take on 2-6 Deerfield next week.
Johnson Creek will play a non-conference road game against Almond-Bancroft on Friday at 7 p.m.
LOURDES 27, JOHNSON CREEK 7
OLA — Bauer 5 run (Johnsen kick)
OLA — Slagter 20 pass Bauer (Johnsen kick)
OLA — Slagter 22 pass Bauer (kick failed)
JC — Olszewski 42 pass Swanson (B. Hartwig kick)
OLA — Kaull 9 run (Johnson kick)
First downs — OLA 23, JC 9. Rushing (att.-yds) — OLA 40-230, JC 28-106. Passes (comp.-att.-int.) — OLA 11-18-0, JC 5-14-0. Passing yards — OLA 160, JC 92. Fumbles-lost — OLA 2-0, JC 0-0. Penalties-yards — OLA 6-60, JC 7-60.
Rushing — OLA Kaull 17-83; JC Swanson 17-59. Passing — OLA Bauer 11-18-160; JC Swanson 5-14-92. Receiving — OLA Slagter 3-76, Ruedinger 6-44; Olszewski 2-60.