This one will hurt for some time for the Waukesha West football team. But not because of missed opportunities or major errors. The Wolverines battled Monona Grove in a Division 2 Level 3 contest on Nov. 4 and just fell short in overtime, 43-42.
Both offenses were tremendous all game, but the defenses made key plays as the game wore on. In overtime with the game tied at 35, West won the toss and elected to go on offense first. West took five plays to punch it into the end zone with a 4-yard run by junior running back Peter MacCudden.
The Wolverines took a 42-35 lead and needed to stop Grove to win the game, but Grove's first play resulted in a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior Alex Ogden to senior Mitch Kelsey. After the score, Grove trailed by 1 and lined up for an extra-point attempt before West was flagged for delay of game.
The penalty put the ball at the 1 1/2 yard line, and the Silver Eagles lined up for the 2-point conversion. Jackson Thomsen took the handoff and barreled his way across the goal line for the game-winner.
Waukesha West concluded the season with an 8-4 record. The loss also snapped West's streak of three consecutive trips to Level 4.
West coach Steve Rux agreed with Monona Grove's final play call.
"I would have done the same," Rux said. "If there's a penalty and you go half the distance, we would have went for 2 also. That was the right call. I thought our guys did a great job trying to stop him and it was a very close call. That was the ballgame. Great job with both teams out there."
The pace never slowed. After one quarter, Monona Grove led, 21-14. By halftime, the game was tied, 28-28. The first five drives by both teams in the first half resulted in touchdowns.
MacCudden, as he has been all season, was a force for West. The junior carried the ball 28 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns. MacCudden also completed a 26-yard pass and caught one ball for 32 yards. After a run, MacCudden came up limping but stayed in and played both offense and defense.
"I don't know if it was an ankle or I thought maybe he was cramping up a little bit playing on both sides of the ball and taking so many carries," Rux said. "He left everything out there, that's for sure, as all of our kids did, and so did theirs."
Grove's passing attack was dangerous from the start. Ogden completed 18 of 28 passes for 382 yards and five touchdowns. Four of those scores went to senior Andryi Nahirniak, who caught five passes for 220 yards (44 yards per catch).
Monona Grove scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions, but West's defense forced three punts in the second half. Justin Baker led the defense with 10 total tackles and assisted on a sack. Hunter Albanese, who forced a fumble, MacCudden and Neil Bartelt all had solo sacks. Samuel Huggett also assisted on a sack.
"Defense did a better job and so did theirs (as the game went on)," Rux said. "I thought both teams played great. What a great Level 3 football game. Our guys played with great heart and they can walk away and keep their heads held high knowing they left everything on the field. That's all you expect out of your team. I wish the best for Monona Grove moving forward to the semifinals. We won some games in situations like that. Tonight, it just didn't go our way."
Waukesha West junior quarterback Robert Kobza completed eight of 16 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight end Finley Schumacher caught three passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Dain Hudson also produced for West with 16 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown.
West produced 530 yards of offense. Monona Grove had 542.
"You lose what you have," Rux said. "That closeness you have with your team every day at practice, those close relationships we have and we built over the year, that's going to continue for decades."