BLACKJACK! Lynx score final 21 points, stun Go-Hawks by 7
WEBSTER CITY – Waverly-Shell Rock quarterback Jake Velky had tossed the pigskin around the field 112 times and completed 57 with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions on the season as he stood in the shotgun and surveyed the field on third-and-goal from the Webster City 6-yard line with just under 9 minutes remaining Friday night at Lynx Field.
Had pass No. 113 translated into touchdown No. 11 then the Lynx would have been cooked.
Thanks for coming. Please drive home safely.
And that’s when Alex Oswald stepped in. Literally.
Oswald, a WCHS senior linebacker, jumped the slant route of slot receiver Brandt Seward and picked off the pass in the end zone that would have given the Go-Hawks a two-touchdown lead. It was just the shot of adrenaline the Lynx needed, as they scored 14 unanswered points over the final 6:36 to rally and beat Waverly-Shell Rock, 28-21, in a battle of teams fighting for the second-place slot in the Class 3A District 3 standings.
“We practiced all week on linebackers dropping to the slants and the curls, and it went right to my spot,” Oswald said. “You could just feel the energy in the huddle after that. Our spirits shot back up and that’s what we’ve got to have. It was a momentum builder.”
WCHS (6-1, 4-1) – now all alone in second in the district – actually scored the final 21 points after falling behind 21-7 following a 60-yard punt return to the house by the Go-Hawks’ Daniel Stensland with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter.
But head coach Bob Howard’s team didn’t pack it in. Instead, the Lynx persevered.
“After that punt return it would have been real easy to phone it in,” Howard said. “It could have been 40-7, so that’s a great win.”
A 17-play, 81-yard drive that chewed more than 7 minutes off the clock was how WCHS responded to Stensland’s highlight-reel play. On fourth-and-8 from the W-SR 13, spinback Trey Tesdahl spotted fullback Dylan Fielder open over the middle and hit him for a touchdown pass to get the Lynx back to within one score.
“That was a big play,” Howard said. “It was a play-action pass and we had Fielder down the pipe.”
Still, W-SR (4-3, 2-2) systematically moved down the field and got into position to make it a two-score game again until Oswald spoiled the plan.
“Ozzie’s pick made the difference in that game,” WCHS senior tailback Connor Larson said. “That was just huge momentum. Everyone took off after that play.”
Larson certainly did.
The bruising runner went 54 yards down the sideline on the very next play and eventually tied the game on a 6-yard burst through a seam.
Lynx defensive end Cooper Jaycox recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession and Larson was again off to the races, this time high-stepping 44 yards away from defenders to the end zone for his third touchdown to give WCHS the lead for good with 4:24 remaining.
“We believe in ourselves and don’t give up,” Larson said after rumbling for 199 yards to put him over 1,000 on the season. “It’s just heart and determination.”
Oswald made two more big plays down the stretch. He jumped on top of another fumble – the Go-Hawks third turnover in as many possessions – at the WCHS 31 with 2:16 to go and then allowed the Lynx to eat the remaining time off the clock with an 18-yard burst up the gut with 1:20 to go.
Oswald rushed for 86 yards while playing both the spinback and wingback positions. On defense he collected four solo tackles.
Tesdahl also played both offensive spots and completed 4 of 10 passes for 66 yards and the one score.
“Trey’s a lot quicker and agile than I am, and I like to go forward with power,” Oswald said about the change in strategy. “It was utilizing our best offensive tools. Trey with his speed on the outside and me in the middle, that’s just a perfect match.”
WCHS, which owned a better than 13-minute time of possession advantage, opened up a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a Larson 7-yard sprint around the left end.
But Velky took over in the second quarter, orchestrating back-to-back touchdown drives out of the spread to give the Go-Hawks a 14-7 halftime lead. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 79 yards and capped it with a 5-yard TD pass to Tommy Bates with 9:20 left in the period, and later hit Stensland in stride on a 32-yard scoring strike.
Velky finished 14 of 25 for 195 yards.
“They’ve got a super-talented football team with lots of kids and lots of speed,” Howard said of the Go-Hawks. “(Their offense) is just hard to simulate. You can’t practice for it.”
Lynx middle linebacker Nelson Ball again engineered the team’s efforts to put the clamps on the running game. He had eight solo tackles, as W-SR managed just 125 yards on the ground.
“He’s the glue,” Howard said of Ball. “He kept their heads up and kept them together.”
WCHS out-gained W-SR 341-320, buoyed by 275 ground yards on 59 totes. But the advantage probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Oswald’s pick.
“If you want to pick out one (play) that’s it,” Howard said. That was a big play.”
The Lynx will now shift focus to Friday’s final district game against Humboldt. A win would guarantee WCHS of hosting a first-round playoff game later this month.