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PdC Blackhawks overcome slow start, turnovers to turn back Clinton 42-20

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PdC defensive back Nick McCullick (20) goes airborne to knock away a Clinton pass that went over the head of teammate Max Schneider (64). (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Jack MacEachern (61) celebrates after stopping the Cougar ball carrier during Friday night’s victory. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Prairie du Chien junior Blake Thiry (9) fights through two Cougar defensive players for a Prairie first down. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Daniel Kruk (63) and a slew of Prairie du Chien defenders break into the Clinton backfield in order to sack the Cougar quarterback. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Nick McCullick hauls in a pass from quarterback Abe Amundson before racing down the field for his first career touchdown. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Bryce Lenzendorf (44) dives past blockers Jack Simmons (50) and Max Schneider (64) for a first down. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

By Derick Kelly

 

Level one of the 2023 WIAA Football playoffs featured 13 teams seeded sixth or worse earn victories and for a while on Friday night, it looked like Prairie du Chien was on the verge of being the 14th team seeded third or better to fall victim.

However, the Blake Thiry Experience kicked into full gear and helped push the Blackhawks to a 42-20 victory over the Clinton Cougars.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Hawks got on the scoreboard first with 9:24 left in the second quarter thanks to Blake Thiry’s first of five rushing touchdown’s of the game with a 11 yard touchdown run. Xander DeHart then made the score 7-0 with his 20th consecutive successful point-after-touchdown kick, tying a program record set by Shane Hernesman during the 1988 season.

The Cougars responded with a touchdown of their own with 29 seconds left in the first half. A bad snap on the PAT attempt lead to the Hawks defense keeping the score at 7-6 in favor of Prairie.

The fireworks were not quite over yet for the first half as wide receiver Nick McCullick hauled in an Abe Amundson pass and raced 65 yards down the field for his first career touchdown. DeHart connected on his 21st consecutive successful PAT but after it was nullified by a penalty on the Hawks, the follow up attempt was no good and the game went into halftime with Prairie holding a 13-6 lead.

The third quarter was a scoreless back-and-forth battle until Thiry scored his second rushing touchdown of the game on a 67 yard scamper with 2:26 remaining in the quarter. Clinton answered Prairie’s touchdown by marching down the field and scoring their second touchdown of the game as time expired in the quarter to make the score 20-12 with one quarter to go.

The fourth quarter belonged to Thiry as he added touchdown runs of 21, 40, and 32 yards as he ran his way to a program record 345 yards rushing on 28 attempts, breaking the previous record of 332 yards set by Zach Thornton in a 28-25 loss at Richland Center on October 7, 2011.

Thanks to those three fourth quarter touchdowns by Thiry, the Hawks were able to comfortably withstand one final Cougar touchdown as the Hawks earned a 42-20 victory.

Besides Thiry, the Hawks offensive attack featured Bryce Lenzendorf (6 attempts for 30 yards), Drake Ingham (1 attempt for -1 yards), Amundson (2 attempts for -4 yards rushing, and 3-for-9 for 75 yards and 1 touchdown passing), McCullick (1 reception for 65 yards and 1 touchdown), Bryce Lenzendorf (1 reception for 10 yards) and DeHart (1 attempt for 0 yard).

The Hawks improved to 8-2 overall with the victory, and it moved the Hawks into a level two home contest on Friday, Oct. 27 against the third seed Columbus Cardinals (9-1). 

The Cardinals, who  were 49-0 winners over Brodhead/Juda in level one, won the 2022 Division 4 State Championship behind a strong rushing attack featuring new Wisconsin High School Football Career Rushing Yard leader Colton Brunell (6,985 career rushing yards). Game time Friday night is set for 7 p.m.

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