by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
A late fourth quarter drive helped Posen cement a 32-20 win over Onaway to remain undefeated (3-0).
It was the Cardinals’ first loss (2-1), but they had opportunities to tie the game or go ahead in the final quarter.
The Cardinals fought back from 18 down to get within six and the defense put the brakes on a Posen offense that was looking to run away with the game early.
Onaway quarterback Gavin Fenstermaker scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:15 left in the final quarter to make the score 26-20 in favor of Posen.
On the ensuing kickoff, Daniel Price recovered a fumble to give the Cardinals the ball right back. On third-and-eight, Dawson Hilliker looked to have scored the game-tying touchdown on a reverse play, but an illegal procedure penalty took the points off the scoreboard and backed the Cards into a third-and-14.
Brendan Hilliker picked up half of it on the next play, but Posen’s George Kroll made a big tackle on fourth-and-seven to get the Vikings back on offense.
However, the Onaway defense came up big again, forcing the Vikes into another three-and-out and into a punting situation. It was a punt that went high, but not far, and deflected off of an Onaway player. Posen recovered the ball at its own 30 with 4:27 and started to move the ball.
Sam Brunet’s 34-yard run took the ball into Onaway territory three plays into the drive, and with 2:10 remaining, Kroll took it 13 yards on third-and-seven to keep the sticks moving.
Two players later, the Vikings capped an eight-play scoring drive to on Mark Wisniewski’s 1-yard plunge for the final score of 34-20.
“We executed and ground it out,” said Posen coach Greg Pietsch. “We were able to come up with a ball-control drive and chew some time off the clock and punch it in.” The Vikings improved to 3-0 for the first time in three years and they’ve already exceeded the win total from last year.
“They had every reason, after the first half, to say it is over, but they came back in the second half and stuffed them,” said Onaway coach Steve Klinge. “We had a lot of chances, we just could not capitalize. I could not be more proud of them. One game does not define your season, so we move on and get ready for next week.”
Klinge credited his squad for executing the defensive adjustments at halftime.
On the opening possession of the game, it was the Posen defense that set up the first points of the night. They came up with a four-and-out at midfield and put together a 13-play drive capped by a 3-yard score by Brunet.
Onaway’s next drive stalled with a holding penalty, and following a 15-yard punt return by Chase Dubie, the Vikings took over at its own 42.
Kroll hit Jeremy Misiak for 12 yards to get the Vikings back into Onaway territory. Early in the second, Wisniewski’s 7-yard touchdown and Kroll’s two-point conversion made it 14-0.
Fenstermaker got the Cards going on offense with runs of 10 and 19 to set up Dawson Hilliker’s 18-yard touchdown. He also took in the conversion for a 14-8 game.
The Vikings went on another impressive drive, this time a nine-play drive. Kroll took it in for a 20-8 lead with a little more than five minutes in the game.
Eyan Hincka recovered an Onaway fumble and Brunet took it to the house from 40 yards out for a 26-8 lead.
The Vikings got the ball back again on Ben Delekta’s sack of Fenstermaker that was recovered by Gage Kaszubowski. Posen went on another drive of nine plays to the Onaway 2 before fumbling. The score would stay 26-8 at halftime.
Onaway came out for the third fired up, stopping Posen right out of the gate, and then taking the ball right down the field. Fenstermaker’s 35-yard touchdown run cut the deficit to 26-14.
Both teams went back-and-forth from that point on until Fenstermaker’s touchdown at the 9:15 mark of the fourth.
Klinge said he was yelling for his players to get out of the way of the punt that would have given the Cards great field position, but in the process ran into the ball.
“It’s one of those things,” said Klinge. “That’s why you play the game.”
Fenstermaker rushed for 120 yards on 18 carries, while Dawson Hilliker had 86 yards on the ground. Price led the defense with 13 tackles from his linebacker position. Declan Clayton came up with 10 tackles.
The rivalry between the schools in eight-man football is now 2-2.
“It’s their goal to beat us, it’s our goal to beat them,” said Pietsch. “It’s for county bragging rights. Our kids really got up for that challenge tonight.”
The Posen coach also said there are some things to clean up.
Brunet had a career-high 224 yards, while Wisniewski went for 153 on 35 carries. Kroll finished with 18 on the ground. Delekta had 12 solo tackles and seven assists. Cameron Paull had nine tackles and Hincka had seven.
Posen is at Atlanta Friday and Onaway hosts Pellston Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m.