The Viroqua Blackhawks spotted Dodgeville an early 6-0 lead, but then bounced back to score 12 points in the second quarter and 14 in the fourth, enroute to a convincing 26-6 non-conference victory over the Dodgers on the Hawks’ home turf, Friday, Sept. 7.
The visitors recovered a fumble by the Blackhawks, the team’s ninth of the young season, on the opening drive of the game and drove 48 yards to score the game’s first touchdown. Dodgeville running back Devin Cerutti crossed the goal-line on a two-yard plunge. The extra-point kick was blocked by VHS junior linebacker Tyler Hannah and the Hawks found themselves trailing 6-0 with 5:46 left in the opening quarter.
Following a pair of stalled drives by the Blackhawks, sandwiched around a Dodgeville punt, Viroqua junior defensive back Zach Lohr gave the Hawks great field position and the spark they needed. On the first play of a Dodgeville possession following the Hawks second stalled drive, Lohr stepped in front of a would-be receiver, picking off a pass by Dodgeville freshman quarterback Garrett Busch at the Dodger’s 45-yard line midway through the second quarter.
Hannah did most of the heavy lifting from there, picking up 42 of the team’s 45 yards on carries of 16, 8, 16 and the final 3 yards for the touchdown to tie the game at 6-6 with 5:48 left in the half.
The Blackhawk defense picked up from there forcing a three-and-out punt by the Dodgers. An effective D-Ville kick put the Hawks deep in their own territory at their own eight-yard-line.
It didn’t take long for the Blackhawks to score the go-ahead touchdown, however, covering the 92 yards on just seven plays, with the final 62 coming on a high-lite reel 62-yard pass completion from Kasey Hammond to Andrew Wedwick.
Hammond hit Wedwick in stride on a deep crossing pattern and the senior wide-receiver picked the ball out of the air on his finger-tips, outrunning all Dodger defenders to pay-dirt, putting the Hawks ahead for good at 12-6 with 1:01 left in the first half.
The Blackhawks stopped the Dodgers on downs to open the second half, but the ensuing Viroqua drive resulted in an interception of a Hammond pass. The Hawks defense responded, forcing another punt, but once again the kick put the Blackhawks deep in their own territory at their own 4-yard-line.
Hannah again led the Blackhawks on a 17-play-96-yard drive, culminated by a one-yard plunge by Hammond to give the Hawks a little cushion with 9:20 left in the contest. Hannah carried the ball nine times on the scoring drive, accounting for 92 yards (there was a 5-yard penalty during the drive). Hannah also found his way to the endzone on the two-point conversion try and the lead had grown to 20-6.
Viroqua’s Drew Fortney set up the Blackhawks’ final score, when the junior defensive back intercepted a Busch pass at the Dodgeville 40 yard-line and returned it to the Dodgers 15-yard-line. Four plays later Hannah turned the interception into points scoring Viroqua’s fourth touchdown on a four-yard carry, making the final 26-6.
The Blackhawks defense continued to apply pressure to opposing offenses, recording eight tackles for loss and five sacks, in addition to the two interceptions.
Penalty flags marred what was otherwise a great high school football game. A combined total of 23 penalties were called in the contest, 12 on the Blackhawks for 85 yards and 11 on the Dodgers for 95 yards.
It’s noteworthy that the Hawks (3-1) played the game without three starters, senior linemen Tate Knutson and Braxton Cary, and junior Jared Anderson, all with minor injuries. According to coach Bill Hannah, the trio were just banged up a little and chose to rest them for the Coulee Conference opener next Friday versus Arcadia.
Total offense: Viroqua 359, Dodgeville 165
Rushing: Viroqua 46-244, 3 TDs, Dodgeville 32-131, 1 TD
Passing: Viroqua Hammond 7-11, 115 yards 1 TD, 1 int.; Dodgeville Busch 3-15, 34, 2 int.
Individual Rushing: Hannah 27/189 2 TDs
Individual receiving: Wedwick 4-92, 1 TD
Defensive leaders: Fortney 5.5 tackles, sack, TFL and an INT; Hannah 4.5 tackles, sack, TFL; Nicholas Schneider 4.5 tackles, TFL
Third down conversions: Viroqua 7/14 (50 percent), Dodgeville 3/11 (27percent)