JOES — It was gut check time for Peetz. Down 28-24 with five minutes left in the game, Peetz lined up for a game-tying field goal.
The Bulldogs sent a man in motion to the outside, the holder took the snap, dropped back, and threw it up to Logan Sircy for a touchdown to win the 6-man football championship.
"Well we've worked on it," Peetz coach Scott Sorensen said. "We used that motion man to get us a one-on-one matchup. We felt comfortable with it, we ran it in practice all week. It was great to see it work."
Sircy had three touchdowns, none bigger than the one that distanced Peetz for good in a 38-28 win.
"It's one of the best feelings I've ever had," Sircy said. "It's crazy, we worked our butts off all year just to get to this point. We had some guys come out that had never played high school football before. It was a team effort, from the bottom to the top."
The Bulldogs outscored Stratton/Liberty 24-8 in the final quarter.
"It shows our grit," Sircy said. "We've been down before. We were down to Fleming in the first half by a couple touchdowns. We feel that we overcome adversity."
Stratton/Liberty came out with a tough defensive effort. The Knighted Eagles forced Peetz to punt on each of it's first five drives.
Eltan Yarger put Stratton/Liberty up 6-0 with 6:49 in the 1st quarter, then Phillip Pickard followed with a 38-yd touchdown run to give the Knighted Eagles a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
"We just needed to get out of that first quarter," Sorensen said. "To only be down two touchdowns after that first quarter, that was great. They were bringing it."
Peetz forced two turnovers with Stratton/Liberty inside the five-yard-line — an interception in the endzone and a fumble recovery at the two — but was unable to turn the opportunities into points.
A turnover on downs finally gave Peetz good starting field position, and they took advantage of it. The Bulldogs cut the Stratton/Liberty lead to 14-6 with about two minutes before halftime after a crucial fourth down conversion in the red zone.
"The kids were used to it," Sorensen said. "They've had tight games. The loss, I think helped us bounce back and know that we're not invincible."
With Peetz driving, Stratton/Liberty stopped the Bulldog offense on fourth down and two, then took it down the field to extend the lead. Yarger's second touchdown of the day put the Knighted Eagles up 20-6.
Sircy kept Peetz in the game with two touchdowns. His second, with 1:38 in the third quarter, made it a one-possession game with Stratton/Liberty holding just a six-point lead.
"Do whatever I can to help my team," Sircy said. "Do whatever I can to get us that much closer."
On the ensuing drive, Sircy intercepted the pass to set up Peetz with a shot at taking its first lead of the game. Peetz went three-and-0ut, but the punt was downed at the Stratton/Liberty one-yard line.
Peetz shot up the middle on defense and forced a safety on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"That was the turning point," Sorensen said. "You felt the whole momentum shift. It was big. First of all, the punt to get it down there, that was great. What a punt. Nice little sequence of plays there."
Hunter White spun into the endzone to cap the ensuing drive and give Peetz its first lead of the game. The extra point hit off the upright and bounced in to put the Bulldogs up 24-20.
But, Stratton/Liberty hung tough. A gutsy, tackle-breaking run by Pickard put the Knighted Eagles back in the lead.
Then, Sorensen's fake field goal call gave Peetz a title win after a 15-year drought. Peetz last won the 6-man championship in 2002 and 1995.
"It feels good, I just don't need to do it every 15 years, man," Sorensen laughed. "Holy crap."