WIAA Division 1 Championship: Homestead 13, Arrowhead 11
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A doctor told Tom Engel his season was over after he dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum three weeks ago. Engel decided to get a second opinion.
Engel returned an interception -- one of two he had for the game -- for a touchdown and Homestead relied on its defense in a 13-11 victory over Arrowhead for the WIAA Division 1 football championship Friday.
"I had to be here. I wanted to end it with my friends," said Engel, who had to be taken off in a stretcher in a second-round win against Milwaukee Marquette. "Nothing was going to keep me away."
Homestead (14-0) finished undefeated and won its third state title overall after beating Arrowhead in the final in 2006 and losing the rematch last year. But not before Arrowhead (13-1) had one last push despite Engel's second interception early in the fourth quarter.
"It was good to get the first one for a touchdown but the second one was huge because it was a momentum shift and it got the ball back to the offense," Engel said.
After Engel's pick, the Warhawks answered with an interception of their own and completed an 87-yard drive capped when Calvin Ramsey, who finished with 132 yards on 15 carries, broke off a 34-yard run with 2:30 left that made it 13-11.
With a chance to tie it on a 2-point conversion, Tom Parish looked right but overthrew Collin Schreck in the corner of the end zone.
"We had to make the play. We knew that. They knew that. That's what happens sometimes," Arrowhead coach Tom Taraska said. "There were a lot of things in the game that could have made a difference. But that's what people will remember, not making the play to tie the game."
Homestead recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock after converting a fourth-and-1 at midfield.
The Highlanders appeared to dominate at times, especially in the second half and moved 46 yards on a possession midway through the third quarter until Barnes threw a pass that Adam Lochmann easily intercepted, one of three passes Barnes had picked off.
But Arrowhead couldn't capitalize and Homestead kept it on the ground when the Highlanders got the ball back, using a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a late hit to improve their field position.
Aric Daniels and Bryan Bronaugh took over from there, each getting three carries, capped by Bronaugh's weaving 15-yard TD run.
Bronaugh took the handoff, split Derek Landisch and Jake Poehls and avoided the diving, last-ditch effort by Russell Darrow to reach the end zone with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Matt Stern's kick was blocked, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Arrowhead built a 5-0 lead off special teams. Jeff Budzien, one of the elite kickers in the country who has drawn interest from at least seven major Division I schools, hit a 32-yard field goal.
Landisch then blocked Barnes' punt out of the end zone for a safety. The ball had sailed over the quarterback's head into the end zone and he tried to kick it after picking it up.
After the kickoff, Parish threw behind Schreck, who slipped on the play, allowing Engel to make an easy interception, which he returned 42 yards for a TD that put the Highlanders up 7-5 at the half.
"We thought he was done for the season but he just wasn't going to do that," Homestead coach David Keel said. "He wasn't going to take no for an answer. He got braced up. He got the doctor's OK and man, what a performance."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)