It seemed DeForest was down for the count, but the Norskies put together an epic drive in the final minute and made a two-point conversion for the ages to down Menasha 8-7 in the WIAA Division 3 state championship game.
Menasha got on the board right away with a 12-play, 67-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession of the game. Davontre Smith capped the drive off with a nine-yard touchdown run.
Things slowed down quite a bit, as the teams traded punts and turnovers, with the score stuck at 7-0 late into the game.
When Trey Schroeder fumbled in Menasha territory with less than two minutes remaining in the game, it appeared the Norskies' chances had faded. However, armed with all three timeouts, DeForest got the stop it needed and forced a punt, taking over on their own 36-yard line with 1:15 remaining.
Despite three turnovers earlier in the game, Schroeder found his groove. Helped by a pass interference penalty on Menasha on the first play of the drive, he'd hit Logan Bierman for a huge 28-yard gain on a third and 14 play. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Schroeder connected with sophomore tight end Nolan Hawk for 11 yards, and Hawk was also able to get out of bounds.
That set up two plays that will live in DeForest lore for many years. Gabe Finley leaked out of the backfield over the middle, catching a pass from Schroeder and powering his way into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown with just 32 seconds left in the game.
Faced with a decision we've seen so many coaches agonize over, head coach Mike Minick did not hesitate, sending his offense out again. Schroeder took the shotgun snap, stepped towards the line of scrimmage, then lofted a pass to a wide open Nolan Hawk for the two-point conversion and 8-7 lead.
Menasha could not get anything in a scramble situation in the final seconds, and DeForest held on for the win in what is the last game for head coach Mike Minick, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
It was certainly some deja vu for Menasha, who won with a two-point conversion in the final minute against Menomonie last week to advance to state, and also scored a last minute two-point conversion over Homestead in the 2014 state semi-finals. This time, though, the Bluejays were on the wrong side of a two-pointer.
It was largely a defensive battle, as the teams combined for just 440 yards but also eight turnovers.
Video of the final-minute DeForest touchdown and two-point conversion plays is below.
Travis Wilson serves as the WisSports.net General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.
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