The Poynette prep football team had everything in front of them when they got the ball one last time during last Friday’s Homecoming game against visiting Watertown Luther Prep. The Pumas trailed by five points with 4 minutes, 51 seconds and had the ball on their own 30-yard line.
A touchdown would not only have made for a great Homecoming, but would have kept the Pumas in the playoff hunt.
However, Poynette was unable to seize the moment and fell 26-21 to the Phoenix.
“This was a tough loss,” Puma coach Greg Kallungi said. “I thought the way we were moving the ball the whole second half was outstanding, but we had a couple of breakdowns.”
The loss ended the Pumas’ playoffs hopes. They are 0-3 in the Capitol North with two games remaining.
With its fifth straight loss, Poynette fell to 2-5 overall.
The Phoenix struck first on Friday. They scored on their opening drive of the game. Levi Clark had a 2-yard touchdown run.
Poynette took its first lead of the game later in the first quarter. They went up 7-6 after quarterback Noah Stark threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Austin Gray.
Stark is filling in for Jackson Elsing, who has missed several games with a leg injury.
“He made some good throws and he had a great game defensively,” Kallungi said. “I thought he played pretty well. He made some key throws.”
Luther Prep took the lead back on the first play of the second quarter. The Phoenix pulled ahead 12-7 after a 17-yard touchdown pass from Elijah Shevey to Nathan de Galley.
The Pumas responded with an impressive 71-yard touchdown pass from Stark to Brayden O’Connor to take a 14-12 lead.
The Phoenix regained the lead for good with 42 seconds remaining in the first half. Paul Frick put them up 20-14 after he caught a 22-yard scoring strike from Shevey.
Luther Prep went up 25-14 on the opening drive of the second half after a 1-yard scoring plunge by Matthew Hillmer.
Poynette jumped back in the game midway through the fourth quarter after Jake Buss caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Stark.
After Luther Prep went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Poynette got the ball back one last time.
“We talked about doing an onside kick, but I thought with the way we are capable of playing on defense, we could get a stop,” Kallungi said. “The guys answered the call and we didn’t have to use a timeout. We set ourselves up perfectly.”
The Pumas were driving before an illegal block call on first-and-10 from the Phoenix 41-yard line stalled the drive.
“That penalty really hurt,” Kallungi said. “We just didn’t make enough plays.”
Luther Prep then ran out the clock.
Stark finished the game 7-of-9 passing for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
O’Connor rushed for a team-high 125 yards on 25 carries. He added two catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Gray had three catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Ahren Schoeckert was 3-for-3 on extra-point kicks.
Parker Walstad had a team-best 12 tackles for Poynette, while Colby Savich finished with nine. Jayden Stoy had a sack.
The Pumas will close out their home schedule this Friday. They will host Lakeside Lutheran at 7 p.m.