Shawano football team prevails in high-scoring battle

Hawks score with 9 seconds left to win
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Shawano Community High School football team earned its first win of the season in thrilling fashion, taking down Winneconne 52-49 in a Bay Conference shootout on Sept. 24 in Shawano.

Shawano led by as many as 27 points in the first half, but needed a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jerzy Brocker to Jacob Landon with nine seconds left to earn the wild homecoming win.

Winneconne scored with 2 minutes, 19 seconds to play to go up 49-45. Shawano’s offense began at its own 38-yard line and quickly got the ball into Winneconne territory.

Brocker and Landon connected for a 10-yard pass on the first play of the drive. A couple plays later, Brocker hit Ashton Henning on a long pass to get the ball to the Winneconne 11. After two Brocker runs netted the Hawks just one yard, Shawano called timeout with 15 seconds to play.

Shawano called a passing play up for Henning, and if it wasn’t there, Brocker was instructed to throw the ball out of the end zone. As the play developed, Landon thought the play was “a little bit broken down, so I just streaked across the field.”

Brocker threw the ball over the middle of the field and Landon hauled it in and then held the ball out and over the goal line and then over his head as he was tackled into the end zone. The touchdown sent the Shawano sideline and grandstands into a frenzy.

“I guess apparently Jerzy was throwing it to Ashton and I snagged it in front of him for the win,” said Landon.

“We knew it wasn’t over,” said Brocker of the team’s final drive. “Everybody was trying their best. We marched down the field, Jacob had some nice catches and then ended it with that catch. It was perfect.”

The wild finish was the perfect ending to the all-around crazy contest.

While the finish to the game was a thrilling one for Shawano, the start to the game was anything but that for the Hawks.

Shawano’s offense had to burn a timeout before running its first offensive play and then went three-and-out. Shawano’s punt was then blocked, with Winneconne picking up the loose ball and returned it to the Shawano 31-yard line.

Two plays later, Winneconne scored to go ahead 6-0.

Shawano was able to score on its next drive. The scoring drive was sparked by two long passing plays up the right sideline, with Brocker connecting with Logan Sipple on both occasions. It was a play that worked wonders for the Hawks all game.

Brocker capped off the eight-play drive with a 10-yard rushing touchdown.

The game completely flipped in Shawano’s favor over the next few minutes. Winneconne fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and on the next play, Brocker and Sipple connected up the right sideline for a 34-yard touchdown pass.

“The energy, it changes so much,” said Sipple of how the big passing plays sparked the team all game. “It really helps our defense get stops and then translates back over to offense. Just having those big plays is great, it brings the crowd up and everyone’s spirits just lift up, it’s amazing.”

Winneconne also fumbled on the next kickoff return, setting up the Hawks’ offense at the Winneconne 36.

This time, it took the Hawks a few plays to find the end zone, with a couple penalties holding the team back. The team converted on fourth down once and then finally scored when Brocker hit Henning — playing with a wrap over his right hand because of an injury he sustained early in the season — for a 26-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-14 play.

“It was awesome man,” said Brocker on playing in the wild game. “We were doing everything we could. Last week we fell short (in another high-scoring game), but this week we pulled through.”

Winneconne’s next offensive possession snuck into Shawano territory before the Hawks’ defense stiffened and got the ball back after a turnover on downs.

Two plays later, Shawano was back in the end zone. Brocker opened the drive with a big run and then Henning busted free for a 39-yard touchdown run.

Shawano continued its scoring frenzy when Brocker jumped a Winneconne pass attempt and returned the ball for a touchdown.

Winneconne scored on its next drive, but Shawano answered with another score to maintain its control of the game. Brocker and Henning connected for a big passing play to get into Winneconne territory before Brocker and Sipple connected on another pass up the right sideline on a fourth-and-15 play.

Brocker and Sipple also connected on the next play for a 5-yard touchdown to make it 39-14.

Shawano looked to be in complete control, but things spiraled out of control in a hurry for the Hawks.

Winneconne scored after just two offensive plays to get within 18, 39-21. Shawano then fumbled on its next snap, but its defense held Winneconne out of the end zone when Deacon Carroll registered a sack on a fourth down play.

Shawano’s offense couldn’t do anything on its next drive, and after the snap on a punt attempt sailed over Brocker’s head, the sophomore was intercepted while trying to avoid a safety.

Winneconne took over at the Shawano 9 and scored on the next play to make it 39-28.

Winneconne’s comeback continued in the second half, scoring after two plays to get within five points. Brocker then was intercepted on a pass that was tipped and the Wolves returned it for a touchdown to take a 42-39 lead.

The high-paced scoring finally slowed after that, with the teams trading punts and turnovers on downs the next quarter or so.

Shawano was the next team to score, but again it was the defense finding the end zone. With Winneconne driving to potentially put the game away, the Wolves fumbled on a second down play from the Shawano 37. Brocker scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the opposite end zone to put the Hawks back up, 45-42.

“Them plays helped us through,” said Brocker of his two defensive touchdowns. “Our defense, we couldn’t stop them, but them two touchdowns were key. They put us on top. It was a big mood changer.”

A short kickoff left Winneconne needing to go just 51 yards to find the end zone again, and the Wolves did just that. Winneconne converted a third-and-17 play and then scored with 2:19 to go.

Shawano didn’t panic, drawing on its experiences learned the previous week to put together one last drive.

“It says there’s growth in our kids,” said Shawano coach Alan Tomow, who was thrilled the team picked up its first win of the year. “This was a good Winneconne football team today. We’re battling some injuries and we have some guys moving around. Teams may score and move the football on us, but we got to be opportunistic and have to take advantage when we get the opportunities and we did that today with turnovers — two turnovers for touchdowns.

“Jerzy did a great job for us, and two weeks in a row, he’s played great. That last drive, he said ‘we’re gonna win this’ and that’s pretty cool to hear a sophomore say that. His role and what we expect out of him is going to grow and he’s handled it very well. I’m really proud of how he’s come along and what our team did today.”

Winneconne 6 22 14 7 — 49

Shawano 27 12 0 13 — 52

First quarter

W: Brady Immel 32-yard run (kick failed), 9:30

S: Jerzy Brocker 10-yard run (run failed), 6:38

S: Logan Sipple 34-yard pass from Brocker (Ashton Henning kick), 6:25

S: Henning 26-yard pass from Brocker (Brocker run), 2:16

S: Henning 39-yard run (kick failed), 0:22

Second quarter

S: Brocker 48-yard interception return (pass failed), 11:23

W: Immel 1-yard run (Ethan Mathe run), 9:29

S: Sipple 5-yard pass from Brocker (pass failed), 5:47

W: Immel 38-yard run (Mason Dorn kick), 5:24

W: Mathe 9-yard run (Dorn kick), 1:46

Third quarter

W: Dylan Sharratt 58-yard pass from Immel (run failed), 11:04

W: Brody Schaffer 90-yard interception return (Jack Quigley pass from Immel), 8:41

Fourth quarter

S: Brocker 61-yard fumble return (kick blocked), 5:03

W: Immel 8-yard run (Dorn kick), 2:19

S: Jacob Landon 10-yard pass from Brocker (Henning kick), 0:09