In its toughest battle of the season, the DeForest prep football team held off a late comeback attempt by New Berlin Eisenhower to earn a hard-fought 14-9 victory in Level 4 of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs in Slinger on Friday.
The win puts the Norskies into the state championship game for the first time since 2007.
The Norskies improved to 13-0 with their closest victory of the season. It is their first victory by less than 20 points.
DeForest will be looking for its first state title since 1982 when it takes on Menasha at 10 a.m. on Nov. 22 at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Norskies had their hands full all night, but came up with the big plays when they needed them. They were held to a season-low 224 yards of offense, including only 116 rushing.
DeForest’s defense came up with the first big play of the game, as Edwyn Erickson recovered a fumble on the opening drive and returned it to the Eisenhower 21-yard line.
Six plays later, the Norskies got on the scoreboard with a 1-yard touchdown run by Trey Schroeder.
After missing a field goal on its second drive of the game, Eisenhower got a 22-yard field goal from Stjepan Peharda to cut the deficit to 7-3.
DeForest struggled to move the ball on offense the rest of the first half, but its defense held strong to keep the lead at 7-3 at halftime.
The Norskies put themselves in a great position to win the game after going on a 10-play, 87-yard scoring drive in the third quarter.
Schroeder capped off the impressive drive with a 4-yard scoring run. Jagger Lokken added the extra-point kick to increase the lead to 14-3 with 1 minute, 28 seconds remaining in the third.
The momentum didn’t last long, as Eisenhower answered right back on the ensuing drive.
New Berlin cut the deficit to 14-9 with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Gave Seifert to Ben Buechel with 10:26 remaining in the game. They failed on the two-point conversion attempt.
The Norskies defense sealed the victory in the fourth quarter with a fumble recovery by Cole Yocum and two interceptions by Deven Magli on the final three drives of the game.
Schroeder finished the game 9-of-13 passing for 108 yards. He also rushed 11 times for 22 yards and two touchdowns.
Gabe Finley led DeForest’s rushing attack with 17 carries for 56 yards.
Logan Bierman led the Norskies with four catches for 50 yards.
On defense, Magli led DeForest with seven tackles, while Alonzo Blevins added five.
Erickson, Trey Warne and Yocum all had sacks for the Norskies.
Seifert finished the game 13-of-29 passing for 221 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Ben Lapp had three catches for 83 yards for Eisenhower, while Buechel added six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.
For a complete story on the game check back online and in next week’s Times-Tribune.