Over the past 7 seasons Le-Win and Forreston have combined to win 4 state titles, with Forreston being the defending champ. Both teams would come into this game with a lot to prove, along with a lot to learn win or lose. This game had a lot on the line as far as conference title implications go, but neither of these teams are worried much about conference, so much as they focus on a game to game basis to get better for the ultimate prize; the playoffs and a chance at a 3rd state title. Coming into this game Forreston was the #1 ranked team in Class 1A, with Le-Win right behind them ranked #3, and as a fan this game lived up to the billing.
As expected in a rivalry game of such powers as the Panthers and Cardinals, this game had a taste and smell like a playoff game. The temperatures dipped into the 40's, the stands were packed on both sides, and the pads were popping.
Things started to progress quickly after each team traded jabs and forced each other to punt on their first series. However, it was Le-Win who would strike first. On a drive that saw the Panthers start on their own 49 yard line, they would run a little at a time, knocking off 5 yards when on a 3rd and 5 Coach Arand and company called a pass play that saw Ty Chrisman drop back and hit Isaiah Bruce for a 46 yard pass and catch up the right sideline and into the endzone. The ensuing PAT was missed, giving Le-Win a 6-0 lead with 5:14 remaining in the 1st quarter.
The Cardinals, and their quick strike attack wouldn't be needed to answer however, as Gavin Fuchs took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to pay dirt by way of a knockout hit by AJ Christensen to give Fuchs all the room he needed to score. The 2 point try was no good, and the game was tied at 6 all.
If this were a heavyweight bout, the first half would have went in the Panthers favor, as they controlled the ball and the tempo of the game for the majority of the first half, and at one point late in the 2nd quarter, even held the mighty Cardinal rushing attack to a measly 18 yards, that was until Christensen finally broke off a 60 yard run to the Panther 14 yard line with 30 seconds remaining in the half, and Forreston in possession of all 3 of their timeouts. The Cardinals chose to go to the air once in the red zone, and it didn't pay off as QB Hunter Daws tried to hit Hunter Rogers in the back of the endzone, but the pass fell incomplete, and the game remained tied at the half 6-6.
Forreston opened the 2nd half receiving the ball, and started their first drive of the 2nd half from their own 34 yard line. The Cardinals definitely looked stronger and went on a 4:33 drive that ended with Garret Badertscher running in up the middle from 7 yards out to propel the Cards to the lead. The 2 point run by Evan Kelsey was good, as Forreston went up 14-6 with 7:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Le-Win responded, as all heavyweight title contenders do, and drove to the Forreston 7 yard line. Stuck in the red zone, and a 4th and 2, Arand and company chose to go for it, but on the play QB Ty Chrisman was pressured from the snap, and was sacked for a loss and turned the ball over on downs. The Cards didn't fair much better, as they started their drive from the shadows of their own endzone, and were forced to punt after gaining just 7 yards. But, on the ensuing punt Le-Win bobbled the ball and a hustling Christensen stormed down the left side of the field to recover the ball, giving Forreston the momentum, and an opportunity to cash in on their lead.
Gavin Fuchs would take the handoff off the left tackle, break a tackle and set himself free on 27 yard run to the Panther 22 yard line, but at the end of the run the ball popped loose, and it was the Panthers who recovered. After a play that saw the Panthers go backwards, they handed the ball off to All State running back Rahveon Valentine, who would run to his right, spin, shake, and cut back to his left for an 81 yard TD scamper pulling the Panthers within 2, but the 2 point attempt failed, and Forreston would cling to a 14-12 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
Half way through the 4th quarter, with Forreston still up by 2 points, Le-Win would benefit from great starting field position yet again, this time capitalizing on it from the Cardinal 17 yard line on a 4th and 8 as Chrisman dropped back and found Bruce in the endzone once again, this time the 2 point attempt was good as Le-Win regained the lead 20-14 with 4:19 remaining in the game.
Forced to answer, and with a chance at the win, Forreston couldn't get the cylinders clicking, as they would turn the ball over on downs a minute later, leaving Le-Win with 3:16 on the clock, 42 yards away from a put away score, but Forreston still had all 3 timeouts. As expected, the Panthers took matters to the ground as they pounded on Forreston with runs from Sean Ormiston and Valentine and slowly trotted their way down the field. With a minute to go, Valentine would march in from 6 yards out to put the nail in the coffin for the Cards, and complete the upset win as the 2 point try was once again good, giving the Panthers a 28-14 lead that would turn into the final score.
Rahveon Valentine would pace all rushers with a game high 210 yards on 29 carries with 2 TD''s. Sean Ormiston would add 85 yards of his own on 14 carries, and Ty Chrisman was 4-8 passing for 62 yards and 2 TD's, both caught by Isaiah Bruce who hauled in 3 receptions for 64 yards to go along with his 2 TD receptions. In all Le-Win would finish with 291 yards rushing and the 62 yards passing for a total of 353 yards for the night.
Forreston was led by AJ Christensen's team high 99 yards rushing on 15 attempts, followed by Gavin Fuchs with 76 yards on 9 carries. Hunter Daws threw the ball 13 times for 3 completions for 36 yards. On the night Forreston gained 212 yards rushing with 36 yards passing for a total of 248 yards.
Don't be fooled by the 2 score victory, as this game could have gone either way in the 3rd quarter, but it was the Panthers who were more prepared for this showdown from the onset of the game, and regained that momentum after surviving some powerful punches from Forreston in the 3rd quarter that set the tone for the 4th quarter, where Le-Win won playing Le-Win football, or should I just say NUIC power football.
Le-Win (2-0) vs East Dubuque (1-1) | Forreston (1-1) vs Dakota (2-0)