The Milwaukee Penguins

The Milwaukee Penguins is the Division 1A collegiate football team for Milwaukee College. We're a school "known for its academics." This is a record of our accomplishments, on the field and off.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Game 6: vs. Marshall

Marshall Thundering Herd (1-3, #70) @ Milwaukee College Penguins (0-5, #117)

Despite our winless record, I went into the game against the Marshall Thundering Herd (perennial also-rans in Conference USA) with an unusual degree of confidence. Don't get me wrong, even they stacked up well against our team. But this week, they came in with several key injuries: one of their starting cornerbacks, their starting middle line backer, and their second-string halfback.

Then on our first possession, Ross (QB #1) gets sacked twice and we have to punt. Oh-uh. But then we sack them twice back: first by freshmen cornerback McClone (CB #46), and then, on the very next play, by blitzing junior cornerback Smith (CB #2). He actually knocked the ball loose and McClone picked it up for our first fumble recovery of the year.

Then we started to have some major fun. After converting on 3rd-and-10, plays to Wetzel (HB #47), Ciraldo (FB #25), Montgomery (WR #15), Beaumont (WR #81) had us positioned on the 4 yard-line. Ross ran the no-huddle, as is our practice, and called a play for the fullback. Montgomery lined up in Ciraldo's position, but powered it in nonetheless.

We continued to put pressure on their QB. This resulted in a Bennett (CB #10) interception. The ensuing drive featured a cast of different characters - Khalfafian (TE #80), Barber (HB #11), Finner (WR #83), Sieczek (TE #86) - with the same end result: a touchdown, this time a beautiful 11-yard touchdown run up the gut - courtesy of a key block by left guard X. Leplae (LG #69) - by Barber (HB #11). She strode in virtually untouched. 14-0. Our biggest lead of the season. Felt weird.

And on their next possession, 3rd-and-10, McClone, having the game of her life, intercepts a pass and runs it back 46 yards for the TD. 21-0 in the 2nd quarter. Started to feel mighty strange. We were ... dominating.

So when they broke out for a - gulp - 74 yard touchdown pass to quickly make it 21-7, I thought nothing of it. We'll just score in our next possession. Hubris? Try this: Ross to Khalafian three straight times. First for 10 yards, then 25 yards, and then 11. Felt like Montana and Rice out there. Khalafian was just having her way with her defenders. At the 6 yard line, Ross to Khalafian for our fourth touchdown of the half.

On the Thundering Herd's next possession, this time the defensive hero is free safety Ziegeweid (FS #34) getting his fourth interception of the year. And - ho hum - we scored again. Barber got her second TD of game, this time receiving. She can do it all: run, catch, paint.

They scored in their next possession but what of it? We had 35 points to their 14 going into the half. That's more than we've scored in any entire game!

...

A coach I admire once told me, from the confines of her easy chair, that she's "rather have a tiny lead than a huge one." While I don't particularly share that sentiment, after this game, I think I'm starting to understand her way of thinking.

With a three touchdown lead, we simply stopped scoring. Our offense kept looking to our defense for a sack, an interception. Instead, it was us that gave up the ball. On our first drive of the second half, Ross tries to force the ball to Columbus (WR #82), who had been well-covered all game. It gets intercepted in the end-zone. On their ensuing drive, an 83-yard touchdown run makes it 35-21.

Still, it wasn't enough to sound the warning bells in me or any of my players. I took full responsibility for that. I run a loose camp, something that other coaches might call "undisciplined", but I believe in a football that is first and foremost, fun. And sitting on a 35-21 lead with 12 minutes to play was, well, fun.

But you don't win by sitting. You don't win by firing up the vegan grill in anticipation of celebratory Not Wurst. And you certainly don't win by missing open-field tackles.

Our lead dwindled down to 7 points by the start of the fourth quarter. We started to play again. Beaumont started to respond to the trash talk. Tempers started to heat up, especially when the Thundering Herd noticed our grill. We drove down to the 11 yard-line, and then stalled out. Goodman (K #30) came in to give us three more points.

Four minutes left to play. 10-point lead. It felt so tenuous all of a sudden. When they converted on fourth-and-1, I ordered the kids to douse the coals. With 2 minutes to go, they had closed the gap to three points.

Keep the ball on the ground, a couple of first downs. That was the plan. But I called a play-action because I knew they were expecting run. They blitzed. We were just plain lucky they didn't intercept that blimp of a pass. And then I called ANOTHER passing play. Miss. On third-and-10, I had to pass. With only 8 seconds elapsed from the clock, Taylor (P #49) punted the ball back to them. They take only a minute to get into the end-zone to finally take a lead in the game.

49 seconds left. Working from the 28 yard line, Ross connected to Montgomery for 21 yards, more jawing on the field - a rivalry between the Penguins and the Thundering Herd has begun, another Ross to Montgomery pass. 41 yard-line, over-the-shoulder catch by Khalafian put us on the 19th. Ross to Montgomery into the end-zone. She had it - "YES!" - the immediate tackle knocked it loose. The officials rule: she never had possession of the ball.

We try thrice more to loft it into the end-zone, but they knew what was coming.

There's nothing worse than having the visiting team celebrate on your home turf.

STATS: MARSH @ MKE

score: 42 - 38
first downs: 16 - 27
total offense: 497 - 415
rushes - yards: 13 - 112 --- 31 - 120
comp-att-TD: 17 - 32 - 4 --- 25 - 46 - 2
passing yards: 385 - 295
sacked: 2 - 2
turnovers: 4 - 1
fumbles - lost: 1 - 1 --- 0 - 0
intercepted: 3 - 1
t.o.p: 10:22 - 2:38

KEY PLAYERS (Offense)

Ross (QB #1) 118.2 rating 25-46 for 295 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Wetzel (HB #47) 15-84 rush, 1 TD; 6-43 yards rec, 4-76 yards kick return
Barber (HB #11) 7-24 rush, 1 TD; 2-28 yards rec, 1 TD
Khalafian (TE #80) 7-110 yards rec, 1 TD
Buccheri (RG #59) 12 pancakes (!)

KEY PLAYERS (Defense)

McClone (CB #46) 4 tackles (1 for loss), 1 sack, 1 INT returned for a TD
Ziegeweid (FS #34) 4 tackles (1 for loss), 1 INT, 1 pass deflect
Ciraldo (FB #25) 4 tackles
D. Smith (CB #2) 3 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sack
Bennett (CB #10) 1 INT, 1 pass deflect

Notes: The league officials have awarded McClone (CB #46) player of the week honors for our conference, the 1A Independents. Thanks. No, really. I'm just pissed that her effort was for naught.

2 Comments:

  • At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Tartufa said…

    I am hungry for pancakes!

     
  • At 9:49 PM, Blogger The Coach said…

    Can I dress you up in a penguin costume? We need a mascot and we can't take the real penguins from the County Zoo.

     

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