SPRING GREEN — After a long Lakeside Lutheran scoring drive tied the game at 14-14 with 11 minutes, 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter, junior Christian Schmidt sent the Warrior kickoff into the night sky.
It was sent high and deep by Schmidt, earning oohs and ahhs from the Warrior faithful, as the ball carried all the way back near the River Valley goal line.
But only several seconds later, it would be oohs and ahhs coming from the River Valley stands as Brandon Springer raced down the right-sideline for a score.
Springer’s 98-yard touchdown would spark a 14-point fourth quarter as River Valley defeated Lakeside Lutheran, 28-14, in a WIAA Division 4 Level 3 game Friday night in Spring Green.
Springer's score came after a 6 minute, 26 second scoring drive from the Warriors.
“We answered their opening-second half touchdown with a beautiful drive and we ran the ball almost exclusively,” Lakeside Lutheran head coach Paul Bauer said. “Really proud at that moment and then just that quick, the game can get away from you."
The Warriors opened up the scoring on the first possession of the game with a 2-yard quarterback sneak from senior Matt Davis on a fourth-and-one.
Along with the fourth-down conversion, Lakeside Lutheran converted on two third-downs on the drive, which left 8:12 in the first quarter.
The Blackhawks responded with a score on their first possession, also coming via the quarterback, with junior Will Bailey scoring from three yards out on third down. The extra point would be no good, giving the Warriors a slight 7-6 edge.
Bailey gave the Blackhawks the lead with a 5-yard run with a methodical drive to start the second half. River Valley ate up 5:30 on the drive and converted on the two point conversion to take a 14-7 lead with 6:30 left in the quarter.
But the Warriors responded with a long-scoring drive of their own. The drive chewed up 6:26, went 74 yards and was capped off with 1-yard quarterback sneak from Davis. The extra point floated through the uprights, tying the game at 14-14 with 11:56 in the fourth.
River Valley would respond on the next play with Springer’s long kickoff return, giving the Blackhawks a 21-14 lead with 11:40 in the fourth quarter.
“The emotion the momentum, they really (River Valley) got it going after that kick,” Bauer said.
The Warriors would be forced to punt their following possession, which would be botched. Davis tried to run for the first, but was tackled short.
The play set up River Valley at the Lakeside 35-yard line. With 8:35 left in the quarter, it was once again Bailey with a score. This time Bailey weaved his way in and out of traffic from 14 yards out to give the Blackhawks’ a 28-14 advantage.
“You have to give them credit,” Bauer said. “They moved it on us.”
It would prove to be the final score of the game.
The Warriors, who replaced 20 starters from last season, won both of their previous playoff games, despite being the lower seed in both contests. Lakeside defeated top-seeded Evansville, 14-6, to advance to Level 3.
“I wouldn't of predicted this, I don't think anybody would have predicted this,” Bauer said. “Just really proud, especially of this run they made at the end.”
River Valley will take on top-seeded Catholic Memorial on Friday at 7 p.m.
RIVER VALLEY 28, LAKESIDE LUTHERAN 14
Warriors 7 0 0 7 — 14
Blackhawks 6 0 8 14 — 28
LL — Davis 2 run (kick good)
RV — Bailey 3 run (kick failed)
RV — Bailey 5 run (two point good)
LL — Davis 1 run (kick good)
RV — Springer kickoff (kick good)
RV — Bailey 14 run (kick good)