WEBSTER CITY – Cole Reigelsberger has had the ball thrown in his direction just once this season, and yet the Webster City junior tight end has two touchdowns – the team’s only two passing scores – to his credit.
That old, overly-used cliche “it’s better to be lucky than good,” well, Reigelsberger has a clearer understanding of it following the Lynx nail-biting 21-14 victory over Class 3A District 2 rival Perry Friday night at Lynx Field.
Locked in a 14-all brawl, WCHS faced a fourth-and-five from the Bluejays’ 10-yard line with 9 1/2 minutes left on the clock. The always reliable jump pass was the play call, only Perry’s Garrhett Bucklew jumped the route over the middle by Alec Fuhs and forced twin brother and spinback Avery Fuhs to throw high.
Bucklew got his hands on the ball. Alec Fuhs got his hands on it too.
And there was Reigelsberger, all by himself in the back of the end zone and the recipient of a ricocheted touchdown – the winning touchdown that put WCHS (3-5, 2-3) in control of its own playoff destiny leading into the final week of the regular season.
“I’m just a decoy pretty much on that route,” a still smiling Reigelsberger said of his diving catch after the game. “I’m running the same route (as Alec Fuhs) … it was lucky, that’s what it felt like.”
WCHS head coach Bob Howard agreed.
“We didn’t execute that (play) right at all, but it was a nice reward and it’s about time we had something break right for us,” he said with a chuckle. “That was definitely one of the better to be lucky than good plays because it was definitely lucky.”
What wasn’t lucky was the Lynx stingy defense slamming the door on Perry (3-5, 2-3) on its final two possessions. The Bluejays went 3-and-out following the WCHS go-ahead score; they got the ball back with 5:05 to go, but again went nowhere. Their last gasp on 4th-and-10 from their own 40 ended in quarterback Will Whiton being sandwiched by defensive end Victor Jergens and linebacker Collin Oswald. The sack triggered a fumble that Rylee Lawson – the captain of the Lynx defense – smothered.
“This was huge. We needed this as much as we needed anything because we knew if we lost (Friday night) there wouldn’t be a 10th game,” Lawson, who collected 4 1/2 tackles, including two solo stops, said with a mention of a possible playoff berth. “This is the last time I’m ever going to play here, so it really matters to me a lot.”
WCHS salted the game away with a pair of fourth-down conversions by junior tailback Gavin Dinsdale, who finished with a game-high 142 yards rushing and one touchdown on 31 carries.
The Lynx ate up the final 3:52 off the clock and were in possession of the ball for nearly 9 of the 12 minutes in the fourth quarter.
The littlest guy on the field played perhaps the biggest role on the game-winning drive. Sophomore back-up wingback Payton Kannuan – all 5-foot-5, 130 pounds of him – hid behind 6-1, 250-pound freshman blocking back Cooper Lawson for 39 of the 69 yards on the march, including a 29-yard burst that set WCHS up deep in Perry territory.
Filling in for starter Domenic Khaleet, who went out with a rib injury in the second quarter, Kannuan registered 62 yards on just eight totes, and Cooper Lawson’s kick-out blocks helped open the lanes on the outside.
“I could feel (Kannuan) behind me when I was out there … his size does make a difference,” Cooper Lawson said.
“Kannuan follows his blocks very well,” Howard said. “He’s a tremendous running back and he’s strong for his size.”
Avery Fuhs added 124 yards of offense to the Lynx haul of 370, which was keyed by the punishing ground game that piled up 319 yards. Fuhs found success on the trap play up the middle; he scampered for 78 yards – highlighted by a 9-yard touchdown, his first of the season, in the third quarter – on 13 rushes, and completed 3 of 4 passes for 46 yards.
“They were playing to stop Gavin and that (trap play) was there,” Howard said. “That trap up the middle is all or nothing … either there’s a hole or there isn’t.”
Whiton, Perry’s do-everything weapon, kept his team in contention numerous ways. He rushed for 64 yards and a score – a 12-yard sprint up the gut that knotted the game at 14 in the third quarter – and also completed 5 of 8 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.
But wait, there’s more.
Whiton went out wide occasionally and reeled in three catches for 34 yards from back-up signal caller Ryan Rathje.
A bubble screen from the lefty Whiton to Nic Wilhelmi in the second quarter turned into a 54 yard touchdown that evened the game at 7.
“He’s a great athlete,” Rylee Lawson said of Whiton. “Their whole team has a lot of speed, so it was definitely tough, but we were able to get the job done.”
Whiton was only able to use his sprinter’s speed twice for double-digit gains. For the most part, the Lynx kept him in the pocket and limited his effectiveness.
“Other than two or three Whiton scrambles, we played pretty well on defense,” Howard said. “The kids made some plays.
“Victor Jergens (1 1/2 sacks, 2 1/2 tackles for loss) had a dang good game at defensive end.”
Linebacker Drew Fielder led the unit with seven tackles, including two sacks. Perry finished with just 249 yards of offense and only 75 on the ground.
Dinsdale upped his district-leading rushing total to 1,228 yards. His 18th touchdown of the season came from 7 yards out on the Lynx opening drive.