Even after his pass was tipped in the end zone by a defender, Black Hills quarterback Ethan Loveless knew Kade Weitzel would be there to somehow make the play.
“He’s the toughest of the tough,” Loveless said about his 5-foot-8, 160-pound wide receiver. “I knew he’d come down with it.”
Weitzel did just that pulling down the tipped ball in the back of the end zone on the final play to give the Wolves a dramatic 22-20 non-league victory Friday over Capital at Tumwater District Stadium.
“Ethan had all the confidence in the world. He told us before the play we we’re going to score and he went out there and did it,” Black Hills coach Kirk Stevens said.
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The late-game heroics capped a wild fourth quarter, which saw the lead change hands three times.
A 1-yard touchdown run by Taylor Simmons reclaimed the lead for the Wolves at 16-13 with 6 minutes to play.
Capital, already a battle-tested team after scoring with just over a minute remaining to defeat River Ridge, 20-15, last week, looked as if it was going to repeat the scenario against Black Hills after a Nathan Tyler 8-yard TD with 1:29 left gave the Cougars a 20-16 cushion.
Back charged the Wolves (1-1) behind the leadership of Loveless, who marched his team down to the 10 before connecting with Weitzel on the game winner as time expired.
“We’re still a very young team,” Stevens said. “We start a lot of sophomores. We’ll mature and we’ll grow over the season, and this game will certainly help us do that.”
Capital (1-1) came up with what appeared to be a huge defensive stop midway through the third quarter when Jesse Mattson recovered a fumble at the Wolves 3.
The Cougars’ celebration was short lived, however, as moments later they were forced to punt out of their own end zone. The kick was deflected and quickly snagged out of the air by sophomore Zach Loveless, who raced 18 yards for the score, cutting the deficit to 13-9 for the Wolves.
Capital led, 13-3, at the intermission, getting a 4-yard TD reception from Jack Collard on the Cougars opening drive and a 1-yard scoring plunge from Tyler with 16 seconds to play in the half to take the double-digit lead into the locker room.
Collard made up for an earlier drop in the end zone on the drive by hauling in a short pass from Grant Erickson late in the first quarter to get Capital on the scoreboard.
Two drives later, the Cougars benefited from some trickery as Chris Penner took an end around on fourth-and-9 from the Black Hills 24 and hit a streaking Erickson, who made the grab before being knocked out of bounds at the 1.
After three failed attempts at running it between the guards, Tyler was successful on fourth down as the senior fullback lowered his shoulder and plowed into the end zone.
Black Hills, which was held scoreless in the first half of its opening season loss to Timberline, moved the ball extremely well on its opening possession, getting big runs from Preston Lee and Ethan Loveless before the drive stalled, forcing the Wolves to take an early 3-0 lead on Xaiver Bacak’s 21-yard field goal.