WAUKESHA — Things looked promising for the Lakeside Lutheran football team in the late going Friday night.
A false start penalty had just moved Racine St. Catherine’s back to its own 43-yard line. It was fourth-and-8, and the Warriors held a six-point lead over the Angels with 1 minute, 57 seconds to play in a WIAA Division 4 semifinal at Waukesha North High School.
But then, St. Catherine’s quarterback Da’Shaun Brown took the snap and passed to Aleks Haeuser for a 19-yard gain to give the Angels new life. Four plays later, Rashid Poole scored on a 6-yard reverse, Brown ran for a two-point conversion and St. Catherine’s held on for a 30-28 victory.
The loss denied the Warriors (11-2) a chance to play in the championship game for the first time. Instead, that distinction went to the Angels (13-0), who will meet defending champ Hammond St. Croix Central (13-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Brown, who holds scholarship offers from the University of Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State, Syracuse and other Division I schools, had trouble hanging onto the ball in freezing conditions. But he persevered to produce some big plays down the stretch.
The real difference-maker, though, was 5-foot-6, 130-pound running back Isaiah Dodd, who carried the ball a career-high 37 times for 221 yards and three touchdowns.
“MVP!” Brown shouted at Dodd during the Angels’ postgame celebration. “There’s your MVP right there.”
Added Racine St. Catherine’s coach Dan Miller: “They concentrated on doing what they could to stop Da’Shaun, and Isaiah really came through tonight.”
Lakeside held a 28-14 lead with 5:04 in the third quarter and the Angels appeared to be on the verge of a collapse.
Lakeside quarterback Jack Monis had just broken free for a 65-yard touchdown run — the second time the Warriors had burned St. Catherine’s for a long scoring run.
And on the second play of St. Catherine’s ensuing possession, Brown fumbled the shotgun snap and there was a wild scramble for the ball. Lakeside Lutheran’s Charlie Miller recovered at St. Catherine’s 13 and, two plays later, Casey Ponyicsanyi scored from a yard out.
Considering Lakeside Lutheran often moved the ball at will, racking up 334 yards of offense, it appeared that victory was near for the Warriors.
“I never had a doubt in my mind that we could come back,” Brown said. “I never had a doubt.”
On St. Catherine’s next series, the elusive Dodd twisted and turned for 28 yards on five carries as the Angels quickly drove. He capped the drive with a 7-yard run and Brown ran for the two-point conversion as the Angels pulled to within 28-22.
St. Catherine’s had a major scare when Lakeside Lutheran drove to the Angels’ 27 with 4:39 to play. But on fourth-and-8, Monis’ pass to Cameron Paske on a corner route fell incomplete, and the Angels took it from there.
Racine St. Catherine’s 6 0 16 8 — 30
Lakeside Lutheran 0 14 14 0 — 28
RSC — Dodd 7 run (kick failed)
LL — Paske 17 pass from Monis (Vater kick)
LL — Ponyicsanyi 68 run (Vater kick)
RSC — Dodd 8 run (Brown run)
LL — Buchta 65 run (Vater kick)
LL — Ponyicsanyi 1 run (Vater kick)
RSC — Dodd 7 run (Brown run)
RSC — Poole 6 run (Brown run)
First downs — RSC 22, LL 17. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — RSC 54-317, LL 38-253. Passing yards — RSC 68, LL 81. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — RSC 3-6-1, LL 7-9-0. Fumbles-lost — RSC 1-1, LL 1-1. Penalties-yards — RSC 5-27, LL 5-25.
Rushing: RSC, Dodd 37-221. LL, Ponyicsanyi 16-118.
Passing: RSC, Brown 3-6-1-68. LL, Monis 7-9-0-81.
Receiving: RSC, Haeuser 2-39. LL, Paske 4-50