Amherst’s football team didn’t give up more than 20 points in its first 13 games.
Then again, the Falcons didn’t face a team like Lancaster.
The Flying Arrows handed Amherst a 41-21 defeat Nov. 20 in the Division 5 state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
“They’re a tremendous team,” coach Mark Lusic said. “They have a lot of talent and a lot of team speed. I’ll tell you what, I thought we were fast, but holy smokes, they’re a heck of a team that did a heck of a job tonight.”
Lancaster was playing in the championship game for the fourth straight year. The Falcons defeated the Flying Arrows to win the Division 5 championship in 2012, but this Lancaster team had the upper hand.
“They made plays when they had to make plays and that was the difference,” Lusic said. “We tried, but we just couldn’t make the play. We couldn’t get over the hump.”
Tyler Glass capped Lancaster’s opening drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. Amherst answered on its first drive, as quarterback Garrett Groshek slipped through the defense and took off for a 44-yard TD run.
The Flying Arrows added one more score in the first quarter on Nick Wood’s 72-yard run, but Amherst tied the game at 14-14 on Connor Zblewski’s 16-yard run 1:24 into the second quarter.
Lancaster took the lead for good later in the quarter on Glass’ 2-yard run. The Falcons had a chance to tie the game with less than a minute to go before halftime, but Glass recovered Groshek’s fumble at the Lancaster 3-yard line.
“That one stung,” Lusic said. “It’s one turnover, it’s one play. In a game like this, that’s what happens, but you know what? Garrett Groshek’s a tremendous quarterback. I’ll take Garrett any day of the week and twice on Sunday. We’ll learn from it and I know Garrett will.”
Nate Tranel and Glass hooked up for a 28-yard TD pass for the only score of the third quarter and the Flying Arrows took a 27-14 lead into the final period.
Glass found the end zone again less than a minute into the fourth quarter from a yard out, but the Falcons responded with Zblewski’s 3-yard run with 5:53 to go in the game to cut the lead to 35-21.
However, Brett Snider’s 76-yard TD run helped seal the win.
“Forty-one points, it’s kind of hard to match that,” Lusic said. “We didn’t have enough firepower today, but we’ll go into the offseason and work hard. We’ll be all right.”
Glass finished with 169 yards on 21 carries as the Flying Arrows outgained the Falcons 389-273 on the ground.
“He’s strong and he’s fast,” Lusic said of Glass. “Tranel, the quarterback, he’s a heck of a player. They had more speed and speed kills.”
The Falcons had a pair of 100-yard rushers in Groshek (157) and Zblewski (105). Groshek also completed 12 of 26 passes for 143 yards, but also threw a pair of interceptions.
“They were a better team,” Lusic said. “Are they a better team every night? I don’t know, but tonight, they were.”
It was the first loss of the season for the 13-1 Falcons, while Lancaster finished at 13-1.
“When I showed up here five years ago, I was told I couldn’t win with this group,” Lusic said. “I’m pretty proud of them. They’ve been to state twice. We’ll go to work Monday and see what happens.”
Lusic now has a 50-9 record over five seasons.
“It was a great effort and I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “Lancaster’s a great team. That’s by far the best team we played all season. By far. This game doesn’t define us. We ended up 13-1 and had a heck of a season. We ran into a very, very good Lancaster team.”