In the last couple weeks, Waubonsie Valley had posted one-point victories to keep its undefeated season alive.
Against West Aurora, the late-game magic disappeared. The Blackhawks got a pair of clutch field goals by Darryl Watkins, including the game-winner in the second overtime, and stunned Waubonsie Valley 27-24 in a tight Upstate Eight Valley matchup.
The defeat put a damper on Waubonsie’s homecoming, while West Aurora (2-5, 2-3) achieved its most significant victory in recent memory against the No. 7 Warriors (6-1, 4-1).
“What a game. I don’t know if I can remember a turnaround like this,” West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said, thinking back to a one-sided loss to Metea Valley earlier in the season. “The effort by the kids, and the coaching staff to get them ready, was amazing.”
Twice earlier in the game, the Blackhawks had come up empty in the red zone. But they overcame a holding call in the final drive of regulation, and Watkins calmly booted a 26-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining to tie the score at 17-17.
After West scored in the first overtime on a pass from Johnathan Doyle to Drake Spears, the Warriors countered with a short toss from Zack Bennema to Ryan Berg.
Waubonsie got the ball first in the second OT, but Bennema lost a fumble on the opening play. The Blackhawks suffered another holding penalty, but runs by Doyle and DaQuan Cross set up Watkins for the decisive 29-yard field goal.
“It’s the best feeling ever, will probably end up as my highlight of high school football,” said Watkins, a junior. “To be able to come out and beat such a fantastic team is unreal. The first kick, I was thinking I didn’t want to be the guy that missed it, with the way we fought hard. The second one, I knew it was going in.”
West Aurora had a decided possession advantage, running 60 plays to the Warriors’ 36. And the Blackhawks held running back Tony Durns to 11 carries for 95 yards, 49 below his average.
“We just came out and played a heck of a game,” Spears said. “Our line did a great job of blocking all night.”
Bennema led Waubonsie with 97 yards on 11 rushes, and most came on option runs which the Blackhawks limited as the game went on.
Spears (16 carries, 114 yards) and Cross (15 carries, 89 yards) formed a tandem which was tough for the Warriors to stop on the sweep. Cross and Doyle scored West Aurora’s regulation touchdowns on short runs, while Bennema and Durns got into the end zone for Waubonsie.
“The defense was the strength of our team coming into the season, but the last three weeks it hasn’t been,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said. “Their backs ran hard, and we didn’t tackle them. We need to watch some tape and figure out what the heck is going on.”