Auburndale football grabs must-win at Pittsville
Apaches complete two long TD passes to edge Panthers
By Paul Lecker
PITTSVILLE — Auburndale completed only six passes on Friday night against Pittsville, but two big ones made the difference.
Cam Ertl hauled in a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Isaacson in the second quarter and a 40-yard score from running back Collin Hawkins on an option pass early in the fourth to lift the Apaches to a 12-8 win in Marawood Conference action at Pittsville High School.
The win was an important one for Auburndale, which now sits at 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Marawood. With games looming against conference leaders Stratford (5-0) and Marathon (4-1) the next two weeks, the Apaches needed this one for a realistic shot at the playoffs. Now, Auburndale needs just one win in its final three games. Its finale is at Tomahawk on Oct. 14.
“For our kids, to be 3-6 last year, we had a team meeting two days after last season, and they said, ‘We don’t care what it takes. We’re going to get to the playoffs,’” Auburndale coach Eric Custer said. “They spent a lot of time in the weight room, and the coaching staff has been a lot of late nights away from their families, but all the credit goes to these kids. They’re the ones doing the work. We’re excited. We have to win one game to be in the playoffs, and that’s where we wanted to be.”
Auburndale moved the ball throughout the game but was stymied in the red zone three times. The Apaches’ first two drives ended inside the 10 on downs.
Pittsville did not move much on its first two possessions but got things rolling in the second quarter.
The Panthers converted two third downs to keep the drive alive and ended up going 95 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown: a 7-yard pass from Luke Denniston to Aidan Masanz. The two connected again for a two-point conversion to put the Panthers up 8-0 with 3:07 to go in the half.
Auburndale returned the favor. Quickly.
On the Apaches’ second play following the kickoff, Ertl hauled in a bomb from Issacson, broke three tackles along the way, and scored from 65 yards out. However, the conversion run failed, and Pittsville led 8-6 at the break.
After a scoreless third quarter, Auburndale mounted a drive to start the fourth, going 93 yards in nine plays before Hawkins hit Ertl on the option pass for the go-ahead score.
“We’ve been working on that halfback pass since the first day of camp,” Custer said. “Collin’s got a great arm, and I think he overthrew him by about five yards, but Cam made a heck of a play.”
Pittsville reached the Apaches’ 24 before turning it over on downs with 1:58 left.
Auburndale was forced to punt, but that ended up not turning out to be a bad thing.
Hawkins, the Apaches’ punter, took down a high snap, scampered left, and picked up about 10 yards and two inches on the fourth-and-10 play, effectively ending the game.
“For (the) record, I didn’t call a fake punt,” Custer joked. “That was probably one of the most heads-up plays I’ve ever seen a kid make. Knowing you have to get 10 yards, and you get 10.2 yards, literally by an inch, and you win the game. You have to give credit to the kids for grinding and finishing it off.”
Auburndale ran for 234 yards on 48 carries with Aaron Willfahrt leading the way with 112 yards on 19 carries.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Apaches 12, Panthers 8
Auburndale 0 6 0 6 – 12
Pittsville 0 8 0 0 – 8
P – Aidan Masanz 7 pass from Luke Denniston (Masanz pass from Denniston), 3:07.
A – Cam Ertl 65 pass from Ryan Isaacson (run failed), 2:12.
A – Ertl 40 pass from Collin Hawkins (pass failed), 8:38.
First downs: Auburndale 15; Pittsville 11
Rushing (att-yards): A 48-234; P 30-92.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): A 6-10-138-1; P 9-19-113-0.
Penalties (no.-yards): A 6-32; P 2-10.
Punting (no.-avg.): A 1-48.0; P 4-35.5.
Fumbles (total-lost): A 1-1; P 2-1.
Rushing: A, Aaron Willfahrt 19-112, Jacob Peplinski 16-68, Collin Hawkins 9-45, Brandon Yahnke 3-11, Ryan Isaacson 1-minus 2. P, Kody Kauth 19-68, Joshua Zogleman 10-30, Luke Denniston 1-minus 6.
Passing: A, Isaacson 5-9-98-1, Hawkins 1-1-40-0. P, Denniston 9-19-113-0.
Receiving: A, Cam Ertl 2-105, Cale Jacoby 1-10, Peplinski 1-9, Colten Yeske 1-8, Willfahrt 1-5. P, Dakota Landphier 3-32, Bailey Herkert 2-17, Jake Neve 1-29, Kauth 1-18, Zogleman 1-10, Aidan Masanz 1-7.
Fumble recoveries (defense): A, Isaiah Hasenohrl. P, Kody Kauth.
Interceptions (defense): P, Bailey Herkert.
Punting: A, Hawkins 1-48.0. P, Kauth 4-35.5.
Records: Auburndale 3-3, 3-2 Marawood Conference; Pittsville 2-4, 2-3 Marawood Conference.