There are games that are heartbreakers.
This was a game where the hearts of the St. Croix Central football fans had their hearts pulled out of their chests and stomped on.
The Panthers held a 7-0 lead in the WIAA Division 4 state championship game against Racine St. Catherine’s until there 12 were 12 seconds left in regulation. That’s when St. Cat’s scored its only touchdown. Racine was also successful on the two-point conversion attempt, resulting in St. Cat’s defeating St. Croix Central, 8-7.
This is the third place season that St. Croix Central played in the Division 4 state championship game. The Panthers were state champions in 2016 but they were defeated in the state title game last year.
While both teams in Thursday’s Division 4 state championship game, it was the defenses that kept coming up with the big plays for most of the game. That resulted in the first half ending without a point being scored. That was fortunate news for Central, which fumbled the ball away on the third play of the game. That gave St. Cat’s the ball at the Central 49, but the Central defense allowed just one first down before getting the ball back.
Central’s defense stretched, but didn’t break, for most of the game. Central only had the ball for eight offensive plays in the first quarter.
It was in the third quarter that Central’s offense looked like the dominating ball control team it’s been all season. The Panthers scored on a 15-play drive, with Keagen Berg burrowing into the end zone from one-yard out for the touchdown. Unfortunately for the Panthers, on the 14th play of the drive, fullback Ryan Larson suffered an injury. Larson was able to play on defense later in the game, but he didn’t return on offense.
St. Cat’s got the ball for the final time with 4:57 left in the game. The Angels drove 58 yards for the score, with quarterback Da’Shaun Brown scoring from three yards out. Brown also scored on the two-point conversion, though the Central sideline was livid, believing that a holding penalty should have been called on the conversion.
Central finished the season with a 13-1 record, while St. Cat’s finished at 14-0.