WAITSBURG — DeSales drove 68 yards in the last 1:37, but Waitsburg-Prescott denied the Irish the last yard here Friday in Southeast 2B football action.
The clock ran out on the Irish inside the W-P one, and W-P claimed a 16-13 victory.
“That was a classic football game,” W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. “DeSales is a fantastic program and it’s an honor to play them. It made for a great game.”
“It was a good game,” Irish coach Mike Spiess said. “It’s always challenging when it is within inches. Everybody focuses on, ‘Was he in or was he not?’ But there was a lot, both good and bad, that went on earlier in the game that led up to that situation.”
In a defensive first half, the Irish had 111 yards of offense and W-P put up 108, and trailing 7-6, W-P took advantage of an Irish high snap on an attempted punt to get the ball at the DeSales’ 11. Dalton Estes drilled a 30-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the half, and W-P went to the locker room up 9-7.
Following an Estes 58-yard punt from his own 14, DeSales got a 47-yard burst from Luke Fazzari, who led all rushers with 165 yards on 29 carries, to gain a first down at the W-P 20. W-P forced and recovered a fumble to stop the Irish drive.
The Irish regained the lead with a nine-play, 62-yard drive on its last possession of the third.
Quarterback Jeremiah Cox connected with Ryan Baumgart for 15 yards for a first down at the W-P 13.
Cox culminated the drive with a 13-yard scoring strike to Joe Duehn. W-P’s Ben Shafer blocked DeSales’ attempted PAT, and the Irish led 13-9 with 10 seconds left in the third.
Back came W-P to reclaim the lead. Quarterback Sterling Eastman and receiver Roy Ebong opened the fourth with a 20-yard catch-and-run as W-P reached a first-and-10 at the Irish 40. Billy Brown ran for five, Estes caught an Eastman pass for 21, and Eastman found Ebong on a slant from the Irish 14. Ebong danced his way into the end zone. Estes added the PAT and W-P led 16-13 with 9:30 left.
The Irish started their ensuing march at their own 24. Fazzari ran for 38 yards on seven carries to highlight the march to the W-P 18. Fazzari ran for two, but a false-start penalty, and two incompletions, left the Irish fourth-and-13 at the W-P 21.
W-P linebacker Danny Stansell sacked Cox at the W-P 26 and W-P took over on downs with 3:31 to play.
“The whole time they were beating me on the outside,” Stansell said. “Coach told me to do this blitz. I told coach he wasn’t going to beat me outside again. I got outside leverage and he (Cox) cut in and I shifted with him and that’s how it happened.”
The Irish defense rose to the occasion as it stopped Brown for only four yards on two carries and Connor Richard dragged Eastman down on the option for no gain and W-P was fourth-and-6 at its own 30.
“We just needed a first down and didn’t get it,” Bartlow said. “Dalton (Estes) punted like an animal, like he always does.”
Estes, who already had punts of 49 and 58 yards, came on to punt. Estes boomed a 47-yarder and Duehn came up with an eight-yard return to the Irish 31 with 1:37 left.
“We really needed a first down at that point and time,” Estes said. “My job was to punt it as far as I could and out of their hands.”
Enter Cox and the Irish two-minute offense. The Irish and Cox were near perfect. Cox hit five consecutive passes and finished the drive 7-of-8. Cox hit Baumgart for two, 11 and six yards, before finding Duehn for 15. Back to Baumgart for five and a second-and-5 from the W-P 30.
“We did an excellent job of executing without using time outs,” Spiess said. “We came up an inch short, but credit their (W-P) kids they played hard right to the end.”
“That last minute and 30 seconds was intense,” Stansell said. “They played air-raid football and they were just great.”
Cox suffered his only incompletion, which left the Irish third-and-5 at the W-P 30, but Cox found Duehn down the middle for 17 and a first down at the W-P 13 with 28 seconds left.
Cox hit Duehn in a crowd at the goal line, Duehn fought for it, but W-P stopped him short.
“That last drive was terrifying,” W-P safety Estes said. “Their quarterback (Cox) is very precise on his throws. We stayed in our cover three. We let the underneath routes go, and that kind of bit us.
“The throw to Duehn, he caught it because I slapped it into his belly,” Estes continued. “I pinned it (the ball) to his stomach, he came down with it, and he was a half a yard short.”
With the clock running out, Cox tried to run it in from the half-yard line, but Estes, Stansell, and friends denied the run and the clock ran out on the Irish.
“We all did our jobs,” Stansell said. “We played hard.”
The Irish defense, led by Cody Josifek, who had a sack, two tackles for loss, and a tackle for no gain, limited W-P to 220 yards of total offense and only allowed W-P eight plays and a punt in the fourth.
DeSales drops to 1-1 in conference and 4-1 overall as the Irish head to their bye week before hosting Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia Oct. 12.
“We made mistakes,” Spiess said. “They made no mistakes and that’s the difference. One loss on Sept. 28 does not define our season. We just have to regroup.”
W-P bounces back from a loss at T-O-R and travels to Dayton Friday with a 4-1, 1-1 record.
“Very emotional,” Estes said of the win. “We play these guys and then we go to Dayton and we’re very flat because this is such an emotional win, but we’ve got to change that (being flat).”
Waitsburg-Prescott 16, DeSales 13
DeSales 0 7 6 0 — 13
W-P 0 9 0 7 — 16
W-P — Estes 69 run (kick failed).
DeS — Fazzari 2 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
W-P — Estes 30 FG.
DeS — Duehn 13 pass from Cox (kick blocked).
W-P — Ebong 14 pass from Eastman (Estes kick).
First downs 18 8
Rushes/yards 38-166 28-114
Passing yards 181 106
Passes (att-comp-int) 22-17-0 15-6-0
Punts 2-14.5 4-44.8
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 7-63
RUSHING — DeS: Fazzari 29-165-1, A. Elmenhurst 2-(-4), Cox 6-18, P. Elmenhurst 1-(-13); W-P: Estes 3-75-1, Brown 17-56, Eastman 7-(-17), Ebong 1-0.
PASSING — DeS: Cox 17-22-0, 181 yards, 1 TD; Eastman 6-15-0, 106 yards, 1 TD.
RECEIVING — DeS: Duehn 7-78-1, A. Elmenhurst 1-9, Baumgart 9-94; W-P: Leroue 1-26, Estes 2-36, Ebong 3-44-1.