Watt dominant, but PHS drops heartbreaker
Hand in hand, the Pewaukee football team marched the length of its home field and back, a sobering conclusion to the evening after a hard-fought loss to Catholic Memorial in the first round of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs.
Over the sound system played a bagpipes version of "Amazing Grace," adopted as the team's signature song during the 2010 season. On the scoreboard was the 14-13 final, a heartbreaking loss to a powerful foe from the Classic 8 Conference.
"Coach (Bill) Young has a great program and a great football team," said Pewaukee coach Clay Iverson. "Our kids played with a lot of heart and never gave in once. A lot of people said we couldn't hold up against them."
The Pirates (7-3) very nearly had more than just a strong showing. After a crucial fumble recovery with less than 8 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Pewaukee meticulously drove from its own 23 largely on the shoulders of running back Derek Watt, who was borderline unstoppable most of the night.
But heading into the wind and facing a 4th and 6 from Memorial's 29, Pewaukee didn't have the luxury to kick a field goal. Quarterback Brock Bateman's lob barely eluded Watt, racing back to try and make the catch.
Memorial (8-2) chewed up the rest of the clock in a game where all the scoring came in the first half, and an early missed extra-point attempt proved to be the difference.
The Crusaders took their lead with 1:06 to play in the first half, delivering a lightning-quick three-play drive that began with 2 minutes on the clock. Pete Karczewski ran for the last 24 yards of the series, and Chris Colombe's extra point spotted his team a 14-13 lead.
Just more than two minutes earlier, Watt scored his second touchdown of the night from 8 yards away, but Watt's extra-point kick into the wind fell short of the crossbar.
Watt, who will play linebacker for Northwestern University next year, capped a superb career by rushing for 265 yards on 30 carries. He also caught three passes for 32 yards and made eight tackles, and his 68-yard steamroll gave his team a 7-0 lead early. He was the primary reason the Pirates outgained the Crusaders, 380-251.
"There are a lot of people that doubted Derek could play Classic 8 football teams well," Iverson said. "Today, you saw him dominate one, and you can put that in the paper."
Charlie Walsh also had a touchdown run early in the second quarter for Memorial to tie the game, and Karczewski finished with 174 yards on 23 carries.
Twice in the second half, Memorial moved into the Pewaukee red zone but turned the ball over. T.J. Watt and Ben Bellows had fumble recoveries, keeping the Pirates within one score.
"That's exactly how we wanted the game to play out, except we thought we would win in the end," Iverson said. "We had the ball where we wanted and it just didn't happen."
Memorial will host top-seeded Plymouth (9-1) on Saturday.
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