The phrase-let ‘defensive battle’ is often used to describe a sporting event, but it seldom applies as well as Friday’s Homecoming football game in Tomahawk.
The Hatchets scored the only points of the game-a nine-yard touchdown run by Adam FauFau-to kick off the fourth overtime period. Then the Tomahawk defense-what else?-held Ashland for four downs and celebrated a 6-0 win.
“It was a great Homecoming win at Hatchet Field,” THS coach John Larson said. “(Friday night) was all about the defenses. It would take four OT’s before the Hatchets would prevail.
“The Hatchet defense forced seven turnovers and the Ashland defense played equally as well.”
The Oredockers compiled 244 yards rushing but just 15 passing (on 2-of-8 accuracy), but shot themselves in the foot repeatedly.
The Hatchets managed just 85 yards rushing and 49 receiving, and punted seven times throughout regulation.
Ashland’s first three possessions ended with fumbles, the next two with punts and the final one of the first half on a missed 37-yard field goal.
Tomahawk punted three times, turned it over on downs twice and fumbled once in its first-half chances. The locals punted away four second-possessions and let the game clock expire on their fifth. But the THS defense had recovered two more fumbles, stopped Ashland near midfield on a 4th-and-three, and forced punts on two other possessions.
That brought up overtime. In high school, both teams get four downs from the 25-yard line to score points and the leader wins.
Dan Galloy gave Tomahawk a chance to conquer in the first overtime with an interception, but the Hatchets fumbled away their go-ahead turn. The Hatchets’ Andy Firkus threw a pick to start second OT, but Craig Swan blocked an Ashland field goal to save THS.
Kory Brietzke recovered a fumble to start the third overtime period, but the Oredockers stopped Tomahawk on downs to force a fourth. Finally FauFau found the elusive end zone for the score, although the Hatchets were somewhat vulnerable after the extra point attempt failed. But the victory was saved with two sacks, a tackle for a loss and a wild desperation pass on fourth down.
Leading the Hatchets on defense were: Payton DuPlayee (7 s, 19 a, 1 FR); Swan (7 s, 5 a, 2 PBU); Nate Kuehn (1 s, 7 a, 3 FR); Firkus (4 s, 4 a); Austin Bellile (2 s, 3 a, 1 FR); Brietzke (1 a, 2 FC, 1 FR).
Rushing yards came from FauFau (9-33), Mitch McAllister (12-24), Firkus (9-16) and Jacob Swenty (9-12). Firkus completed 5-of-16 passes to McAllister (1-30), Craig Swan (3-13) and Clay Borchardt (1-6).
Tomahawk is now 2-3 in its independent schedule.