In their first down-to-the-wire contest of the year, the 2012 Wauwatosa West Trojans survived a furious comeback by the Greendale Panthers and won in overtime 37-30.
This was an amazing game that featured all the drama and thrills a football fan could ask for. If there are “instant classics” in Woodland Conference sports, this game would qualify. And for Tosa fans, what a sweet and memorable finish.
After a successful on-side kick to start the game, the Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to the play of Josh Ringleberg, their talented sophomore quarterback.
Ringleberg passed and ran Greendale down the field and eventually scored on a quarterback keeper. The keeper – which sometimes looked like a delayed draw and sometimes like an off-tackle power run – was a play the Trojans had trouble stopping all night.
Turnovers – a total of five on the night – and penalties did stop Greendale.
After the first Trojan offensive series went nowhere, Greendale fumbled on their next possession, and Trojan linebacker Niko Lewis recovered.
This time, the Tosa offense stayed alive thanks to a nice third-down pass from Jared Morzinski to Jameson Brock. And credit several churning and spinning runs by Greg Lewis – who eventually pounded the ball into the end zone. Zack Veit saw his first duty as the Tosa West point-after kicker and nailed it for a 7-7 tie.
Trojans take and hold onto a lead
The second quarter featured a second Greendale fumble and stalled drives by both teams until just under three minutes to play in the half. Greendale’s strategy to play soft in the middle in order to stop the Trojan’s wing-back speedsters appeared to be paying off.
But Tosa West took what Greendale gave them – and several Greg Lewis runs and two completions from Morzinski to Develyn Ferguson got West to the Greenfield 24 yard line. From there, Mickey Morgan broke free on an inside-out sweep and sprinted to the right corner of the end zone, making the half-time score 13-7.
The second half saw a dramatic comeback by Greendale. After Demaris Purifoy and the offensive line produced a 5-yard scoring run that put West up 20-7, Greendale ate up the third-quarter clock and scored on a sneak to close the margin to 20-14.
On their next drive, the Trojan’s needed points and got them. In their own version of a ball-control drive, Greg Lewis and the offensive line chewed up yardage. They got another drive-saving third-down completion from Morzinski to Brock, this one for 24 yards.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Trojans march stalled at fourth down and 3 on the left hash mark. Coach Good called on his sophomore kicker Zach Veit. The snap, hold and kick were perfect from 29 yards out. The Trojan’s first field goal attempt of the year increased their lead to 23-14.
After a Jameson Brock interception with just over nine minutes left and a scoring run by West’s Mickey Morgan from 15 yards out, it looked like the Trojan’s lead of 30-14 would hold up.
But Greendale wasn’t done yet.
Panthers tie it up; Trojans fall just short in regulation
The Panther’s first fourth-quarter drive ended in a 10-yard scoring run by Ringleberg, who tacked on a 2-point pass to bring Greendale within 30-22.
On the Trojans next possession, they faced a fourth and 1 and went on to punt. Mickey Morgan got off a 60-yard kick that came to rest at the Panthers' 5-yard line.
Greendale showed great poise as they moved methodically downfield. With 26 seconds left on the game clock their quarterback keeper made the score 30-28. An illegal procedure penalty by Greendale pushed their 2-point conversion attempt back to the 8-yard line.
Ringleberg threw a great pass to the right flat that Tosa appeared to have stopped short of the goal – but junior Nate Miller plowed over the line in front of the Panthersa home bleachers as their fans roared, knotting the score at 30-30.
After Greendale’s 16-point comeback there were still 26 seconds left on the game clock. In deep kickoff formation, West’s Mickey Morgan fielded the ball at the 12 yard line. He first veered to his right, then burst through a seam to his left and sprinted to the left sideline past the disbelieving Panther bench.
He shook off one defender just over mid-field but was finally pulled down at the 12-yard line. The Trojans had 15 seconds left in regulation and no timeouts. An incomplete pass to the left corner of the end zone was followed by a field goal attempt that failed – and the game was headed to overtime.
A quick OT score, an INT and victory
The overtime period started with Tosa West on offense at the 25-yard line. With a light breeze at their back, they wasted no time.
On first down, Morzinski lofted a gutsy pass to the right that traveled just over the Greendale linebackers but in front of the safety’s help. Jameson Brock gathered the ball in at the 7-yard line, broke a tackle and stretched over the end zone for the score. The extra point gave the Trojans the lead, 37-30.
The Greendale Panthers needed a touchdown. Their first play in overtime was marred by an illegal procedure penalty. On second down, Ringleberg dropped back to pass and was sacked for a 10-yard loss by West’s senior duo of Jon Doolen and Shawn Conners.
On third and 25, Ringleberg’s pass appeared to be caught by his high-flying receiver. But West’s Robert Henry Davis grabbed the ball just after the Panther receiver and Davis hung on. His momentum and strength helped him come to earth with the ball clutched to his chest.
The midfield referee signaled the game-ending interception by Davis, and the Trojan faithful erupted in joy and relief.
Now with a record of 6-1, this Trojan’s win was a team win. The offense was multi-faceted and had no turnovers. The defense battled against skilled, fast athletes – and once they gained the lead, refusing to fall behind. Special teams made no mistakes and consistently aided West’s field position.
On this night, Greendale was looking for a victory to clinch a playoff spot, but instead dropped to a record of 4-3.
Already assured of a playoff spot, the Tosa West Trojans were looking to add another chapter to a remarkable 2012 football and community-wide story. Wauwatosa West won and their amazing story continues.