from today's Waukesha Freeman --
Defense preserves victory
Watt’s strong first half not enough for Pirates
By Chris Patterson Freeman Correspondent
PEWAUKEE – Committing two red-zone turnovers in the second half, the offense for the Catholic Memorial High School football team never was able to finish off Pewaukee on Tuesday.
Fortunately for the Crusaders, their defense was up to the task.
After the Pirates had driven to the CMH 28 in the game’s final minutes, Memorial forced a fourth-down incomplete pass with 1:57 remaining to preserve a 14-13 victory over Pewaukee in a WIAA Division 3 first-round playoff game.
Memorial, 7-2 overall, will now host Plymouth on Saturday in a second-round playoff game. Plymouth, 9-1, advanced with a 28-7 victory over Whitefish Bay.
Despite allowing 330 total yards and 16 first downs, Memorial’s defense kept the Pirates at bay by forcing four turnovers – all four of which came in CMH territory.
“In the second half, we really stepped up on defense and that was big,” Memorial sophomore defensive back Matt Hubley said.
It was a pure hustle play by Hubley at the end of the first half that might have prevented Pewaukee from taking momentum as well as the lead into the locker room at half.
On the first play from scrimmage after a 22-yard touchdown run by Memorial senior fullback Pete Karczewski had given the Crusaders their first lead at 14-13, Pewaukee senior running back Derek Watt took a handoff at his own 25, busted through the line and appeared headed for the end zone and the go-ahead score.
However, as Watt ran down the right sideline, Hubley just kept on closing the gap and eventually caught the Northwestern University recruit from behind at the Memorial 20 with 55 seconds to play in the half.
“At first, I wasn’t sure, but I just kept on running and eventually caught him,” Hubley said.
“You can never give up. I knew I had to keep chasing him. It’s just about effort.”
And Hubley’s effort was not lost on Memorial coach Bill Young.
“That was about angle of pursuit and things you drill on, but it was more about just not quitting,” Young said. “That was just a huge play there.”
Following two running plays for zero net yards and an incomplete pass, the Crusaders denied Pewaukee any points at all when senior defensive back Matt Hauser intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone that was intended for Watt.
Watt thoroughly dominated in the first half, rushing for 169 yards on just 18 carries in the first two quarters. He opened the scoring with a 68-yard run with 5:57 to play in the first quarter and added an 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“It was a great game played by both teams and Derek Watt is just a terrific running back,” Young said. “He really hurt us that first half, but the second half we had a bunch of big stops on defense.”
Watt rushed 12 times for just 49 yards in the second half to finish the game with a total of 30 carries for 218 yards rushing.
“There were a lot of people that doubted Derek and whether he could play against Classic 8 football teams,” Pewaukee coach Clay Iverson said. “Well, today you saw him dominate one.
“We battled them with everything we had and everything played out the way we wanted it to except we thought we’d win it in the end. We had a chance there, but it didn’t happen.”
The Pirates, whose season ended at 7-3, held Memorial without a first down until early in the second quarter.
After their first four possessions all resulted in three-and-outs and netted a total of only 31 total yards, the Crusaders got things rolling following an interception at the Memorial 46 by senior linebacker Matt Groehler.
On the first play from scrimmage following the pick, Karczewski busted through the left side and raced 51 yards down to the Pewaukee 3. Two plays later, Memorial junior running back Charlie Walsh plowed into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:11 remaining in the half.
Pewaukee immediately responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive and retook the lead at 13-7 on Watts’ 8-yard scamper. However, Watts’ extra-point kick attempt into a stiff headwind fell just short – a lost point that loomed large later.
A partially blocked punt by Memorial senior Cody Gardetto gave the Crusaders the ball at the Pewaukee 47 with 1:57 remaining in the first half.
Following a 6-yard run by Karczewski and a 19-yard pass completion from senior quarterback Dominic Zanoni to junior running back Casey Townsend, Karczewski finished off the three-play, 47-yard drive with his 22-yard TD run. Memorial senior Chris Colombe added the extra point to give the Crusaders the lead for good.
“Sometimes we’re kind of a late-blooming offense,” Karczewski said. “We may have a couple bad drives, but once we get everything in sync, I think we really started pushing them and wearing down their defense.
“In the second half, it was just a matter of getting first down after first down and eating up the clock.”
Karczewski finished with 169 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Photo -- Katie Derksen/Special to The Freeman Catholic Memorial junior Charlie Walsh takes the ball down the field Tuesday against Pewaukee High School at Pewaukee.