Two-point conversion wins game for Panthers
Craig Myer missed the previous game with a shoulder injury. But when it came to what could be the biggest play of the St. Croix Central football season, the Panthers put the responsibility on Myer's shoulders.
With less than two minutes left in last Friday's game at Unity, Central's Tyler Cody scored to cut Unity's lead to 19-18. The Panthers then had to decide whether to try tying the game with an extra-point kick, or to go for the win with a two-point conversion attempt.
The Panther coaches and players met, deciding to try going for the win. They decided to give the ball to Myer on a counter play. The junior halfback slashed into the end zone, giving Central a 20-19 win over the Eagles.
The win puts Central at 1-0 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and 2-1 overall. The Panthers face another pivotal D-SC game this Friday, when they play at home against Glenwood City in a 7 p.m. start. Central and Glenwood City were picked by most conference coaches as two of the favorites in the conference this season. The Hilltoppers are also coming off a narrow win, holding off Spring Valley in the final seconds for a 19-15 win last Friday.
Win at Unity
Unity was flying high coming into last Friday's game after the Eagles had gotten their first win in three years the previous Friday. Central coach Tony DiSalvo had warned his players that Unity would have a big burst of energy at the start of the game.
The Panthers were able to withstand Unity's early energy. That was largely due to an interception by Ryan Fedie, which set up the Panthers' first score, early in the second quarter. That score came on a 2-yard run by Jordan Kooiman.
Unity came back to tie the game on a touchdown pass from Cole Strilzuk to Alex Lukowski.
A fortunate bounce gave the Panthers the lead just before halftime. Cody fired a pass to Kooiman, but the ball caromed off Kooiman's shoulder pad into the air. Myer was running a parallel pass route and he snared the ball out of the air, heading downfield for a 53-yard touchdown.
"I've never seen anything like it," DiSalvo said of the fluke touchdown.
The fluke scores would even out in the third quarter. Strilzuk was running a sweep when he fumbled the ball. The ball bounced back to Strilzuk, and he was able to weave through the Panther defense for a 58-yard touchdown.
This touchdown brought notice to a problem the Panthers had all night, bringing down the ball carrier. DiSalvo counted 27 missed tackles by the Panthers during the game, including five on this winding touchdown run.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Eagles got a touchdown from Ryan Filip to take a 19-12 lead.
Central got the ball back and went on a 65-yard drive. Using the running of Kooiman, Myer and Brady Hughes, the Panthers were able to march down the field 65 yards for the touchdown with just under two minutes left in the game.
Myer's two-point conversion followed and the Panthers were able to escape with a win.
"Unity is much improved," DiSalvo said. "They'll get their first conference win, I'm just glad it didn't come against us."
DiSalvo said the offense performed much better this week after struggling against Baldwin-Woodville the previous game. He said the defense, which had looked solid against B-W, can't afford another bad tackling night when they face Glenwood City's option offense this Friday.
St. Croix Central 20, Unity 19
St. Croix Central 0 12 0 8 20
Unity 0 6 6 7 19
SCC -- Jordan Kooiman, 2 yard run (kick blocked)
U -- Alex Lukowski, 16 yard pass from Cole Strilzuk (kick failed)
SCC -- Craig Myer, 53 yard pass from Tyler Cody (pass failed)
U -- Strilzuk, 58 yard run (kick failed)
U -- Ryan Filip, 1 yard run (Jordan Tolaas kick)
SCC -- Cody, 1 yard run (Myer run)
First Downs 10 10
Rushing Yards 229 198
Passing Yards 53 78
Passes 1-4-1 int. 5-10-1 int.
Penalties 3-20 2-10
SCC -- Jordan Kooiman 22-141, Brady Hughes 11-60, Craig Myer 7-28, Tyler Cody 2-0
SCC -- Tyler Cody 1-4-1 int; 53 yards
SCC -- Craig Myer 1-53