Homestead scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally and defeat Sussex Hamilton, 28-20, Friday night in a Level 2 football game at Homestead.
Top-seeded Homestead trailed the fourth-seeded Chargers, 20-14, going into the final quarter, but then showed what championship teams are made of.
First junior quarterback Nick Allen led the Highlanders on a 19-play, 75-yard drive, which ended when senior running back Eric Wade scored on a 3-yard run. Luke Neusen, who was 4-for-4 on extra points then converted to give Homestead a slim, 21-20 lead.
But then perhaps the turning point of the game switched the momentum to Homestead.
Hamilton junior quarterback Mike Barnes rolled right and then turned back and tossed a pass to senior Alec McShane, who dropped the ball with no defensive player near him. The Chargers then turned the ball over to Homestead after one more play and Allen took over once again.
With first and 10 on their own 31, Allen led the Highlanders on a 9-play, 69-yard drive. The last 33 yards came on a beautiful run down the left sideline by Allen, who was uncontested after faking two handoffs that had the Chargers defense going in the opposite direction.
“I had two fake handoffs and I turned around and our running backs just led me down the field,” Allen said. “It was a good play call by coach Keel and it was a success.”
Leusen’s extra point was good, Homestead led, 28-20, with 5:07 left to play and the defense stopped Hamilton the rest of the way.
Homestead opened the scoring when Allen had tossed a 25-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Jack Popp with 9:07 left in the first quarter. Hamilton came back when Barnes took them on an 8-play, 72 yard drive, with senior running back Drew Patterson scoring on a 3-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:10 on the clock in the first
Homestead went 80 yards on seven plays, with Allen going around left end for a 4-yard score with 5:31 left in the half for a 14-7 lead.
After each team exchanged turnovers – a fumble exchange by Sussex and an interception by the Chargers Brett Buehler off a wobbly end-around option pass – the Chargers got back on the board with 2:03 left in the half.
Barnes uncorked a beautiful 25-yard pass over the middle to Alec McShane, who beat his defender in the endzone. The extra point was unsuccessful and Homestead led, 14-13, at intermission.
The Chargers started the second half and went 67 yards on 12 plays, scoring on a option pass when Dan Lunowa took a handoff from Barnes, rolled right and found Jacob Glendenning all alone in the end zone for a 20-14 lead.
“We knew it was going to go back and forth in the second half and I knew we were going to march down and we capitalized on one of our more interesting plays,” Hamilton coach John Damato said. “I’m quite pleased. Homestead is such a good football team, well-coached, we just couldn’t stop it there at the end.”
“They started the second half with a great drive,” Homestead coach Dave Keel said of the Chargers. “They just really did a nice job. Our defense was just busting our chops and playing our hearts out, but Sussex just made a couple plays. That ‘34’ is a beast. (Drew) Patterson is an awfully good football player. But I can’t say enough for our defense really came through.”
Keel then praised the Chargers.
“They are so well-coached, they don’t have to use gimmicks,” he said. “We got a break when that one kid dropped that screen pass. We were prepared for what they did. But they are just so well- coached.”
Wade finished with 104 yards, Allen rushed for 87 and Patterson 76.
Homestead will now play Kimberly, which beat Cedarburg, 43-14, on Friday.