PALMYRA — Blake Huebner’s 27-yard pass to Brody Tschanz with 3 minutes, 23 seconds remaining proved to be the difference as for the second year in a row Waterloo held onto a one-point victory over Palmyra-Eagle, 19-18, in the 2020 and Eastern Suburban Conference opener Friday night.
After defeating P-E 42-41 for its only win of 2019, the Pirates went 67 yards in just four plays to erase an 18-13 fourth-quarter deficit. A 40-yard pass from Huebner to Eugene Wolff set up the eventual game-winner.
Waterloo (1-0 overall, 1-0 ESC) put together two 13-play drives in the second half to take a 13-12 lead.
“We talked about it at halftime that it wasn’t going to be pretty — last year we kind of got the reputation that we were going to be a pretty team and throw it all over and win through the air — not this year,” said Waterloo head coach Dave Frisell.
After the Panthers’ Aiden Calderon blocked a Wolff punt to set up a 1-yard Joey Brown TD run, the Pirates covered 71 yards with Jordi Aguero scoring on a 2-yard dive to give Waterloo a 13-12 advantage with 9:11 to play.
“We showed some pretty good character because it could’ve been a safety; we showed a little resilience and that’s a big difference compared to years past,” said Frisell.
Palmyra-Eagle (0-1, 0-1) re-took the lead on senior Levi Musselman’s 37-yard run to the end zone, however, he missed the 2-point conversion leaving the Panthers with only an 18-13 lead.
The two teams traded possessions before Waterloo took over at its own 33 with just over 4 minutes remaining. Faced with a 3rd-and-10, Huebner threw a screen to Wolff who appeared to be going nowhere, but then found daylight and scampered 40 yards to the P-E 27. One play later, Huebner hit Tschanz for the game-winner.
It’s the first season-opening win for Waterloo since defeating Pardeeville 35-0 to open the 2015 season.
The Pirates trailed 6-0 at halftime, but did force three Palmyra-Eagle fumbles in the game’s first 24 minutes.
Huebner finished 10-of-27 through the air for 151 yards while throwing one touchdown and one interception. Caleb Hager caught four of those throws for 55 yards, both team-highs.
Wolff led Waterloo on the ground with 59 yards on 18 carries.
“It was fun to see us battle the whole night long. It was a hard win, but it’s the kind of win the kids will build on,” Frisell said. “Like I told the kids before the game, ‘you don’t know how many of these you’re going to get, and you better take advantage of it.’ We begged the school board to be able to play two months ago and they said ‘Yes,’ so we got our opportunity and they took advantage of it.”
The Pirates will have off until Oct. 9 when they host Cambria-Friesland in their 2020 home opener. The non-conference kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Waterloo 0 0 7 12 — 19
Palmyra-Eagle 6 0 6 6 — 18
Palmyra-Eagle — R. Carpenter, 9 run (kick failed).
Waterloo — Huebner, 22 run (Jor. Aguero kick).
Palmyra-Eagle — Brown, 1 run (pass failed).
Waterloo — Jor. Aguero, 2 run (kick blocked).
Palmyra-Eagle — Musselman, 37 run (run failed).
Waterloo — Tschanz, 27 pass from Huebner (pass failed).
First Downs — W 13, PE 11. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — W 33-108, PE 34-138. Passing Yards — W151, PE 35. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — W 10-27-1, PE n/a. Fumbles-lost — W 1-1, PE 3-3. Penalties — W 1-0, PE 3-20.
Rushing: W: Wolff 18-59; PE: n/a. Passing: W: Huebner 10-27-1, 151; PE: n/a. Receiving: PE: Hager 4-55; PE: n/a.