Prairie du Chien Homecoming

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Reid Koenig gains good yardage on a kickoff return versus Lancaster. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

Gavin Gillitzer nears the end zone on a 49-yard touchdown run in the first quarter Friday night.

Stephen Ronnfeldt (76) hits Evan Gates of Lancaster hard and causes a fumble in second-quarter action Friday night.

Behind the blocking of Reid Koenig and the Prairie du Chien offensive line, Tyler Smock finds running room on the outside.


Flying Arrows 

spoil Blackhawks’ 

Homecoming game

By Zach Mara


The Prairie du Chien Blackhawks hosted the Lancaster Flying Arrows on Friday night, looking to end Homecoming Week with a win and improve to a perfect 7-0. The game was dominated by Lancaster’s (6-1, 2-0) physical and very large offensive line and the SWC’s leading rusher, Evan Gates. Gates totalled 51 carries for 392 yards and 6 touchdowns in the game, as he is well on pace to surpass 1,700 yards this season.

The Blackhawks (6-1, 1-1) were able to match Lancaster’s scores early but were worn down in the second half, giving Lancaster a Homecoming-spoiling 62-27 victory over the Hawks.

The Blackhawks received the opening kickoff, and early on it was evident that Lancaster had one goal: stop Tyler Smock. Smock’s runs were often cut short of their usual yardage, as the Arrows frequently focused their defense on shutting him down.

The Blackhawks were unable to get started on the right foot, as Gavin Gillitzer was intercepted on the third play of the game. Three plays later, Gates was in the end zone, following a 26-yard touchdown run. The PAT was successful, and Lancaster jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. The Hawks rebounded on their next drive, as Gillitzer completed an 18-yard pass to Drake Coleman on the second play. Two plays later, Gillitzer was outrunning the defense for a 49-yard touchdown. Cory Check’s PAT was good, and the Hawks had tied the game at 7-7 with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter. The Flying Arrows put together a 9-play, 73-yard drive on their next possession, capped by a 2-yard TD run from Gates. The extra point was no good, but the Arrows had taken a 13-7 lead.

Prairie du Chien’s next possession carried over into the second quarter, as the Hawks put together a 12-play, 73-yard drive, highlighted by a 36-yard TD pass from Gillitzer to Carter Pederson on fourth down. The Hawks had tied the game at 13 with 11:01 remaining in the first half. It seemed as the though the Hawks had caught a huge break on their next possession, as Sam Fernberg recovered a fumble at Lancaster’s 41-yard line. Unwilling to give in, the Arrows’ defense stepped up and forced a 3-and-out. Dylan Coleman’s punt was a good one, narrowly missing being downed inside the 5. Instead, the ball rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Seven plays later, Lancaster had regained the lead on a 17-yard touchdown run by Gates. The 2-point try was stuffed by the Hawks and the score was 19-13. It was the Hawks’ turn to encounter bad luck on their next possession, as Lancaster forced a fumble to take over on their own 42-yard line. The powerful offensive line continued to push back the Hawks’ defense, as they scored their fourth touchdown of the half on their next possession to increase their lead to 25-13 with 3:09 remaining in the half. On the second play of the Hawks’ ensuing possession, Tyler Smock broke away for a 70-yard touchdown run on a perfectly executed read-option play. Check nailed the PAT, cutting Lancaster’s lead to 25-20. Gates and the Arrows weren’t done yet, however, as on their next possession, Gates managed to find the end zone for his fourth TD of the game. The 2-point try was good, giving the Arrows a 33-20 lead with 0:23 remaining in the second quarter. The Blackhawks were oh-so-close to punching in one final score before halftime, as Gillitzer connected with Cory Check for a 59-yard screen pass to get the ball down to Lancaster’s 9-yard line. On the final play of the half, the Arrows perfectly defended a pass to Check to send the game to halftime with Lancaster leading 33-20.

The track meet continued on the opening possession of the second half, as QB Evan Straka punched in his second TD of the game to increase the lead to 40-20.

Gillitzer, Smock and the rest of the Blackhawks were not about to give up, however, as on the first play of the Hawks’ ensuing possession, Gillitzer connected with Smock for an 85-yard touchdown. Check added the PAT, and the score was 40-27. The teams exchanged turnovers-on-downs, giving Lancaster the ball with 6:22 to go in the third quarter. Eleven plays later, Evan Gates had scored his fifth TD of the game. The lead had increased to 48-27 in favor of Lancaster.

After another Prairie du Chien punt, Gates scored his sixth and final touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run. The Arrows’ lead increased to 55-27 with 9:20 remaining in the game. The Hawks’ next drive was stopped prematurely, as Gillitzer fumbled, giving the ball back to the Arrows with 8:26 to go. Straka punched in his third score of the game after 2 plays, bringing the score to 62-27. The score would remain 62-27 for the rest of the game, as Lancaster entered victory formation with just over a minute to go. Evan Gates and the Arrows had handed the Blackhawks their first loss of the season, and the Hawks will have to wait at least one more week to punch their ticket into the playoffs.

Tyler Smock led Hawks’ rushers with 86 yards and 1 TD on 13 carries. Gavin Gillitzer added 8 rushes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Gillitzer was 9 of 18 for 229 yards in the air. Gillitzer passed for 2 touchdowns and threw one INT. Tyler Smock led the receivers as well, accumulating 88 yards on 2 receptions for a touchdown. Carter Pederson added 36 yards and a TD, and Cory Check caught 2 passes for 67 yards. The Blackhawks’ defense was led by Stephen Ronnfeldt, who totalled 14 tackles. Cory Check added 11 tackles, and Carter Pederson brought down 10 Arrows’ ball carriers.

The Prairie du Chien Blackhawks will travel to Richland Center to face the Hornets (0-7, 0-2) Friday night, as the Hawks will play once again for the chance to clinch a playoff spot. Game time is 7 p.m.

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