Week 6: Galena vs EPC

PEARL CITY–There was an emotional joy seen on the faces of Galena football players that has not been seen in a long time for the boys in blue. Following a double overtime win at The Pasture at Pearl City High School, the Pirates let out cheers after escaping the Eastland-Pearl City Wildcatz.


“It was a wild one,” exclaimed coach Ed Freed following his team’s victory. “I know they were 0-5, but that is very misleading. They lost to three big time programs and could easily be 2-3 entering this game just like us.”


The Wildcatz (0-6) opened the game with a dominating performance by their running back Maddux Hayden, who carried the ball four times in the opening drive for 72 yards and a touchdown to give the home team the early 7-0 lead with 10:08 still on the clock in the opening quarter.


The Pirates (3-3) scored on their first drive of the game as well, an 18-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Hefel to Brady Schemehorn to tie the game at 7-7. On the ensuing possession, the Wildcatz would continue their domination of the Galena defense behind the strong running performance of Hayden. Reily Schauer punched in EPC’s second touochdown to take the 14-7 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter.


The Pirates would have one more first quarter possession, but would go four-and-out. “I don’t know what happened in the first quarter, we couldn’t stop them,” said Freed. “They got on top, which is something we talked about all week that we could not do.”


The Wildcatz would extend their lead to 21-7 with a 15 play drive, capitalized by a Hayden 14-yard touchdown run. The Pirates would respond on their following possession with a 12-yard run by Jack Ries to cut the EPC lead to 21-14 with 4:27 left before halftime.


Before halftime, the Wildcatz would score again with a 5-yard run by quarterback Kellen Henze, demoralizing the Pirates hopes entering the break. “We said at halftime that it is never over,” said Freed.


The third quarter was the only scoreless frame of the game. With 3:02 left in the third quarter, the Pirates retained possession and marched down the field. As the third quarter ended, the Pirates were set up with a third-and-four from the EPC 13-yard line. A five-yard quarterback keeper by Hefel set up a first-and-goal for the Pirates. On the next play, Hefel found Schemehorn for the touchdown, after a missed extra point, the Pirates deficit was cut to 28-20.


On the Pirates next possession, with 8:13 in the fourth quarter, Hefel found Ries in the middle of the field for an 18-yard reception, the momentum started to build for the Pirates. However, as soon as the momentum built, the hopes seemed to be dashed as an interception by the Wildcatz after a WR pass from Schemehorn gave the home team the ball back with only 6:24 left in the game.


The Pirates were able to make the stop that they needed to against the Wildcatz to give them one last offensive possession with 3:19 left in the game. Backed up to their 17-yard line, the Pirates knew they had no room for error. Hefel went 6-for-13 through the air during that drive and was highlighted with a big catch from Ries on third-and-10 from the Galena 45-yard line to set up a quarterback sneak for the first down. Another big pass was caught by Sam Eaton on a third-and-10 from the EPC 45-yard line with only 1:00 remaining on the play clock to get the Pirates set up with a first-and-goal. On second down, Hefel found Schemehorn once again for a seven-yard touchdown reception.


On a play that resulted in an interception the first time, Freed and the coaching staff trusted their team and had Schemehorn pass the ball to Jacob Heisler for the two-point conversion to seal the tie at 28-28 with 37 seconds left in regulation. “We had so many people step up and make huge plays,” said Freed.


The Wildcatz gave the Pirates a scare as they marched down the field, but the Pirates held them out of scoring position to force and overtime period.

In Galena’s first overtime since the 2OT state championship game in 2003 against LeRoy, the Pirates knew they still could not make a mistake.


EPC got the ball in the first overtime and scorred on a touchdown pass from Henze to Carson Heeren to take the 34-28 lead after failing the 2-point conversion try.


Galena had the next possession and scored on a four-yard touchdown run from Julian Garcia. The Pirates lined up for the extra point and as the ball looked to have sailed into the uprights by the Pirate faithful and even some of the EPC fans, the officials ruled that the kick was no good.


In the second overtime, Ethan Hefel scored on 4th-and-1 to give the Pirates their first lead of the game, a successful extra point by Kevin Trinidad made the score 41-34.


EPC scored right away on their 2OT possession with a 10-yard run by Hayden. EPC decided to go for the two-point try following that touchdown, however the Pirate defense held the Wildcatz out of the endzone to seal the 41-40 win.


“Next week is another big game and we have to be ready,” said Freed. “Nothing is easy in this conference.”

Galena will take on Dakota on Friday, Oct. 8 at Chuck Korte Field. It will be the Pirates’ last regular season home game of the 2021 campaign.


By the numbers

EPC leads the all-time series 5-9 since the co-op was formed with the first game being played in 2007. The win was Galena’s second consecutive, only the second time that Galena has won consecutive games in the series, the first being 2007-2008. Galena led the all-time series against Lanark/Eastland (26-9) and Pearl City (13-2).


The Pirates’ 41 points on the road are the most for Galena since the Pirates scored 43 in a 43-6 win at Pecatonica on Oct. 2, 2015.


The 81 combined points scored are the most in a Galena game since Oct. 12, 1906 when Galena lost to Darlington 106-0. It was the first time that a Galena game featured both teams scoring 40 or more points.


The overtime game and win was the first for the Pirates since the 2003 state championship game against LeRoy when the Pirates won 21-20 in 2OT. It was the first regular season overtime game for the Pirates since Nov. 2, 1991, a 6-0 loss in 2OT against the Le-Win Panthers. The win was Galena’s first road overtime win in program history.


Galena overtime games:

Sept. 28, 1984- vs. Aquin (OT), 6-7 L

1985 (IHSA 1st Round) vs. Morrison (OT), 28-20 W

Sept. 6, 1991 vs. Southwestern (OT), 8-0 W

Oct. 11, 1991 vs. Stockton (2OT), 14-20 L

Nov. 2, 1991 @ Le-Win (2OT), 0-6 L

1991 (IHSA 1st Round) @ Fulton, 20-26 L

2003 (IHSA 2nd Round) vs. Stockton (3OT), 13-10 W

2003 (IHSA state championship), 21-20 W

Oct. 1, 2021 @ EPC, 41-40 W