Saint Mary's Springs celebrates a second straight title
It was an inauspicious start for the Saint Mary's Springs Ledgers in the Division 5 state championship game, as Stratford scored on its first drive and led 14-0 before threatening to go up three scores into the second quarter.
However, a key stop by the Ledgers defense allowed the offense to gain momentum with a 95-yard scoring march just before halftime. Instead of trailing 21-0, Springs was down just 14-7 at the break.
The momentum further swung to Springs when Stratford fumbled early in the third quarter, with Mitchell Waechter finding Cade Christensen for a 29-yard touchdown as the game was knotted at 14.
After failing to convert a fourth down inside the Springs 10-yard line in the first half, Stratford switched gears in the second half. A nice drive took the Tigers to the Ledgers' two-yard line, but this time Stratford chose to boot the field goal, re-taking the lead at 17-14 with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Saint Mary's Springs fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Stratford would turn the ball over on downs on their ensuing possession.
That set the stage for a championship drive from Saint Mary's Springs, who took over on their own 28-yard line with 8:02 remaining in the game. The Ledgers would march methodically down the field, converting a fourth and two from the Stratford 24-yard line when Marcus Orlandoni took a hand-off 16 yards for a first down.
Two players later, Orlandoni went in from five yards out to give Springs a 20-17 advantage after the extra point failed.
Stratford had one more opportunity, but on fourth down, Jacob Schrauth hurried Tigers' quarterback Max Schwabe into an incomplete pass as the Ledgers kneeled it out for the win.
It marks the 16th overall state title for Saint Mary's Springs and a record-setting eighth in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. Head coach Bob Hyland, the state's winningest coach, has been at the helm for all of them.
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