GREEN BAY — With 4 minutes, 38 seconds to play James Morgan and Ashwaubenon had Green Bay Southwest right where it wanted it.
Ashwaubenon trailed the Trojans, 17-14, but the Jaguars had possession at its own 46-yard line with arguably the best quarterback in the area at the controls.
Ashwaubenon needed to score at least a field goal, but with Morgan’s right arm the possibility of a touchdown was real, and about two minutes later it happened. From Southwest’s 34 Morgan glanced right and then turned left and launched a pass to Sam Wisneski at the goal line down the left side.
Wisneski went up for the catch, came down with and fell into the end zone with what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown as the Jaguars, ranked No. 11 in the FOX 11 Top 11 poll, rallied for a 20-17 win in a Fox River Classic Conference game at Dahlin Family Stadium.
“They’ve been doing it all year,” Ashwaubenon coach Mark Jonas said of Morgan and Wisneski. “I think teams went into the season having to take out Jake Imig on the other side and Sam has stepped up and obviously has shown he’s more than capable of manning the other side and that puts pressure on teams. Just fabulous, it’s an individual effort in a team sport.”
Wisneski knew before the snap Morgan was going in his direction.
“The guy, I already took him deep once and I gave the quarterback the look and he gave me the look back and I knew we were going deep,” Wisneski said. “Just gave him a little stutter-and-go."
As Wisneski alluded to, this wasn’t the first time Morgan and Wisneski hooked up for a big play. Late in the third quarter, with No. 5 Southwest leading 17-7, Wisneski hauled in a 49-yard scoring pass.
Morgan, just a junior is receiving Division I attention, and he showed why Friday. He competed 15 of 27 passes for 178 yards and two TDs. His ability to get rid of the ball quickly makes him hard to sack and he has tremendous touch on deep balls.
“That’s a college quarterback arm there,” Wisneski said. “That is fun. He throws you 40-, 50-yard bombs and you’re running underneath it. It’s a receiver’s dream. We’re so blessed to have him.”
Morgan and Wisneski weren’t the only ones making big plays for the Jaguars. Down 10-0 in the second quarter, Jake Zills ripped off a 50-yard TD run.
In recent years, Southwest’s defense has been difficult to piece together long drives against and this year that has been the same. Friday, Ashwaubenon didn’t put together long drives, it just made long plays, which was important.
“Southwest is a great defense, it’s tough to get yards on them,” Wisneski said. “If we want to score sometimes you need those big plays.”
Outside of Zills, those big plays weren’t around in the first half. Southwest (2-1) led 17-7 at halftime, riding its ground game. Meanwhile, Ashwaubenon (3-0) was stymied.
But eventually things got going in the second half because of adjustments.
“Defensively, we switched a little bit,” Jonas said. “Instead of running our ‘54’ we switched to a ‘53’ to get an extra linebacker in the box, because they were just killing us running the ball off tackle, so that helped us stop the run.
“Offensively, the kids started catching the ball. We had some kids open in the first half and couldn’t get it to them.”
Southwest failed to score in the final two quarters, but was in position to win anyway. With less than five minutes to play, the Trojans were in Ashwaubenon territory and appeared to be putting the Jaguars on the ropes.
But then the Trojans lost a fumble on an option play, setting up Ashwaubenon’s final drive. Wisneski said he knew then Ashwaubenon had to score and it did with 2:24 left in the game.
“We knew that was the time,” Wisneski said. “Southwest, if they got the ball, they would run down the clock with their great run game. We knew it was now or never and we took advantage of it.”
Ashwaubenon had to sweat out a final drive by Southwest, and the win was sealed when Dane Syed picked off a pass in the end zone.
It clinched a come-from-behind win in as many weeks for the Jaguars, who beat Manitowoc in Week 2, 27-24. Jonas couldn’t have been prouder of his team and the smile on his face was proof.
“It says they have a whole lot of intestinal fortitude,” Jonas said. “To come back two weeks in a row in the fourth quarter against teams that are quality opponents, bigger than we are, really showed a lot. We’re just not as big as everybody else, but we have bigger hearts.”
Ashwaubenon last won the FRCC in 2010 and now the Jaguars are one of the frontrunners to win the title this season. They knew Friday’s game was key.
“We were really happy to get this win,” Wisneski said. “The goal is to win conference and this gets us one step closer.”
- Notes: Southwest’s 15-game winning streak against FRCC teams was snapped. … Ashwaubenon’s Emmit Carpenter attempted a 56-yard field goal, which fell short in the end zone. … Wisneski had 6 catches for 127 yards.
- Game ball: Wisneski, whose ability to make big plays keyed the Jaguars’ win.
- Numbers game: 13 Points Ashwaubenon outscored Southwest by in the second half.
(11) ASHWAUBENON 20, (5) GREEN BAY SOUTHWEST 17
Ashwaubenon…0 7 6 7 — 20
GB Southwewst.7 10 0 0 — 17
GBSW – Chad Leaman 1 run (kick good)
GBSW – Andy Geniesse 26 field goal.
ASH – Jakes Zills 50 run (kick good)
ASH – Sam Wisneski 49 pass from james Morgan (kick good)
ASH – Wisneski 34 pass from Morgan (kick failed)
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