Waunakee seniors Jeremy Werner (7) and Lucas Statz (14) celebrate the Warriors' 2017 Division 2 state title
Seemingly dead in the water in the fourth quarter of the Division 2 state title game against Brookfield Central, the Waunakee Warriors rallied with a pair of touchdowns to pull out a 14-13 victory. It is the sixth state championship for the Warriors, all under Hall of Fame had coach Pat Rice.
Brookfield Central dominated the first half, getting on the board on a nine-yard Drew Leszczynski run less than four minutes into the game, but the extra point was missed, which would come back to haunt the Lancers.
A 20-play, 97-yard Brookfield Central drive was culminated in the middle of the second quarter when Leszczynski threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Zach Heckman, who made a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone, ripping the ball out of the Waunakee defenders' hands.
The Lancers' led 13-0 at halftime, with a 225-58 advantage in yards of offense. Brookfield Central missed an opportunity to add to the lead when Rade Latinovich was wide left on a 33-yard field goal late in the half.
Waunakee threatened on its opening drive of the second half, but Brookfield Central got a big stop on fourth and one from their own 10 yard line.
However, Latinovich missed another short field goal late in the third quarter, and the score remained 13-0 heading to the fourth quarter.
The first play of the final quarter proved to be one of the biggest of the game, as Reed Ryan forced a fumble by Julian Banda, which was scooped up by Jeremy Werner, giving Waunakee the ball at the Brookfield Central 14-yard line.
Suddenly emboldened with momentum and confidence, Waunakee scored three plays later on a Javian Dayne three-yard plunge.
Brookfield Central failed to gain a first down on its next drive, and Waunakee would march 58 yards in 11 plays, with a one-yard Javian Dayne run and ensuing Reese Marek extra point giving the Warriors a 14-13 lead.
Brookfield Central had two more possessions to try to get back on top, but gained a total of just 11 yards and saw Waunakee kneel out the clock in the final seconds.
Javian Dayne finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, as Nate Carter threw for 115. Conner Smith led the team with 12 tackles, while junior defensive end standout Reed Ryan had 7 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and two sacks.
Brookfield Central's Zach Heckman closed out his high school career with 174 rushing yards, a 20-yard touchdown reception, and an eight-yard pass.
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