New Berlin Eisenhower scored touchdowns off of two costly Greenfield turnovers in the first half and rode a stout defensive effort to a 15-7 Woodland Conference Black Division victory at home Friday night.
A promising opening drive for Greenfield came to a halt when an errant halfback pitch from Tyler Laverdure was recovered deep in Eisenhower territory.
Eisenhower quarterback John Crowley immediately found tight end Dylan Petre for a 36-yard pass down the middle and running back Anthony Stewart put the Lions on the board moments later with a 6-yard touchdown run. Stewart bulled his way in for the two-point conversion to give Eisenhower an 8-0 first quarter lead.
The turnover disparity was not lost on Greenfield head coach Scott Otto, who saw his team fall to 4-4 overall and 4-3 in conference despite outgaining the Lions, 277-266.
“We ran for 240 yards and scored seven points,” said Otto. “The turnovers were huge and credit to them, they were able to take advantage. They caught us a couple of times with the pass, and that was enough tonight.”
The Lions (6-2, 5-2) would cash in even quicker on Greenfield’s second turnover. Following a Laverdure interception that gave Eisenhower the ball at their own 17-yard-line, Crowley executed a picture perfect play-action fake, finding receiver Nick Holicek for an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 15-0 second quarter lead.
The play is one that Eisenhower head coach Jeff Setz admitted the team has worked on since summer practices began.
“It was one of the first plays we put in way back in August," he said. "We were able to set up the play action with some running plays early and it paid off for us tonight.
“Once we got that momentum shift we tried to strike with the big play, and it really turned the game around.”
The Lions set up their play-action with 122 rushing yards, and Crowley finished 6 of 12 for 218 yards and the long touchdown through the air.
“We have been getting better every week in practice passing the ball,” said Crowley. “We try to pound the rock and let the run set up our passing game.”
Both teams struggled to move the ball in the second half until a late drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Zach Truss drew Greenfield to within 15-7 with 1:43 remaining in the game. Truss and Lavardure combined for 168 yards on the ground.
However, Eisenhower was able to recover Greenfield’s onside kick attempt and ran the clock out to secure the victory.
The Lions moved into sole possession of second place in the Woodland-Black and have now won four straight since a 27-25 loss at Greendale on Sept. 9.
“We have continued to improve since midseason, even in losses. The kids just kept working in practice and it’s showing in the games,” said Setz.
Eisenhower finishes its regular season by hosting Brown Deer next Friday.
Meanwhile, Greenfield enters the final week of the season needing a win at home against New Berlin West to guarantee a playoff berth. Despite the loss, Otto was encouraged by the way the Hawks finished the game.
“I was happy with the way the kids battled, coming down on that drive at the end,” said Otto. “We need to take care of New Berlin West next week and see where we are.”
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