Late field goal lifts Falcons
Amherst repeats as state champions
By Greg Seubert
A break here, a break there.
It all added up to a second straight state championship for the Amherst football team.
Carter Zblewski’s 26-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in the WIAA Division 5 state championship game snapped a 35-35 tie and gave the Falcons a 38-35 win over Cedar Grove-Belgium Nov. 17 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The win capped a 13-1 season for the Falcons and is the team’s third state title since 2012.
Brandon Piotrowski’s 2-yard quarterback sneak and Zblewski’s extra point tied the game at 35-35 with 5:12 to go in the game, but the Falcons soon had the ball back following a turnover.
Facing a second-and-10 at their own 29-yard line, the Rockets attempted a hook-and-ladder play. Josh Weiss completed a pass to Reid Hilbelink and Hilbelink attempted to lateral the ball to teammate Matt Dirkse. The ball landed on the Camp Randall turf, Amherst’s Thomas Andersen scooped it up and returned it 18 yards to set Amherst up at the Cedar Grove-Belgium 14-yard line with 54 seconds on the clock.
Piotrowski’s 6-yard pass to Marcus Glodowski gave Amherst a fourth-and-1 at the 5-yard line. Zblewski went in to attempt what would have been a 21-yard field goal with 15 seconds left, but a false start penalty on the Falcons moved the ball back 5 yards. Zblewski then connected on the Falcons’ first field goal of the season.
Both teams found the end zone on each of their first two drives.
Weiss hooked up with Hilbelink for a 13-yard score to cap the game’s opening drive, but Amherst answered with Chandler Benn’s 1-yard run.
Weiss hit Hilbelink for a 7-yard score on the Rockets’ second drive and Benn tied the game with a 3-yard run with 31 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The Falcons took a 28-14 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to a pair of scores in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
Devin Ostrowski scored from 4 yards out with 1:51 to go in the half to cap an 11-play, 92-yard drive and the Falcons took advantage of a turnover before halftime. Glodowski intercepted a Jason von Heimburg pass and returned the ball 19 yards to the Cedar Grove-Belgium 30-yard line.
Piotrowski found Josh Cisewski in the end zone for a 30-yard pass with 21 seconds remaining.
That two-score lead disappeared in the second half, as the Rockets scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 35-28 lead.
Weiss threw an 8-yard TD pass to Dirkse and an 11-yarder to von Heimburg in the third quarter and the Rockets regained the lead with Weiss’ 10-yarder to von Heimburg with 8:50 to go in the game.
Amherst tied the game on its next drive on Piotrowski’s 2-yard run.
The Rockets took over on their own 30-yard line after Zblewski’s field goal, but Bryce Holderman ended any chance of a comeback with an interception on the game’s final play.
The Rockets outgained the Falcons 422-366.
Ostrowski had 71 of Amherst’s 198 rushing yards, while Benn and Glodowski added 67 and 57, respectively. Piotrowski completed 10 of 15 passes for 168 yards. Josh Schude caught a team-high three passes for 43 yards.
Weiss, who set the state record for touchdown passes this season, completed 36 of 51 passes for 383 yards and five TDs. Hilbelink caught 14 of those passes for 164 yards and two scores, while Ethan Brochtup added 13 catches for 155 yards.