The Austin Packers football team was looking for win number two in a row Friday night as they traveled to New Prague to take on the Trojans in a Big Southeast District Red Division matchup, and in a game that saw four lead changes in the second half, a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown in the latter stages of the fourth quarter helped to lift the Trojans past the Packers 28-17.
New Prague won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, and their first drive was a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the game as starting from their own 20, the Trojans used a good mix of run and pass to work the ball down the field and on the 12th play of the drive, senior running back Nathan Burkhardsmeier powered into the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown run, and kicker Satchel Johnson’s extra point put New Prague ahead, 7-0.
Starting from their own 14, Austin’s first possession ended in a three-and-out, but a 48-yard punt by punter Joe Ewing pushed New Prague back to their own 34. On the third play of the drive, junior defensive back Peyton Ransom intercepted a Will Seymour pass, giving the Packers the ball back at their own 27. On the first play of the ensuing drive, quarterback Jack Lang hit Ransom with a quick pass over the middle after a play action fake, and Ransom dashed 45 yards to the New Prague 28-yard line. A 16-yard pass from Lang to senior wide receiver Manny Guy on 3rd and 12 gave Austin a first and goal at the Trojan 4-yard line, and on the tenth play of the drive, junior running back Jeremiha Landry powered into the end zone from a yard out for his first varsity touchdown and a 7-7 tie after Joe Ewing’s extra point.
New Prague went on another long drive after the ensuing kickoff by Ewing forced them to start from their own 20, as they again mixed the run with the pass, especially on third down to move the ball to the Austin 8-yard line late in the second quarter. On the 14th play of the drive, Seymour gave a play-action fake to his left, rolled out to his right and threw on the run into the end zone, but Ransom was there again for yet another big play for Austin as he picked off Seymour’s pass just inside the goal line for a touchback. The Packers wasted no time going back to the play that had worked so well to start their touchdown drive as Lang found Ransom again on a quick pass over the middle off of a play-action fake, and Ransom was off to the races until the Trojan defense caught him from behind at their 42-yard line. A Trojan defender was able to strip the ball loose, and New Prague recovered the fumble after a scramble at their own 39.
The Trojans then headed back the other way, trying to get kicker Satchel Johnson into field goal range, and two first downs helped New Prague move the ball to the Austin 42-yard line with only :11 left. The Packer defense came up with a sack on the next play, and a desperation heave under heavy pressure by Seymour down the right sideline went out of bounds well shy of the goal line and brought the first half to an end, with the score tied at seven.
Austin received the second half kickoff and starting from their 20 after a touchback, the Packer passing game continued to click as Lang found junior wide receiver Isaac Osgood for 39 yards, Guy for 21 yards and Osgood again for 17 yards to help move the ball inside the New Prague 10-yard line. On the eighth play of the drive, a 3rd and goal pass from the 5 by Lang into the end zone was incomplete, and Joe Ewing capped the drive with a 22-yard field goal, giving Austin their first lead of the game at 10-7.
New Prague’s first possession of the second half started at their 23, and another long, time-consuming drive ensued, with the Trojans using a roll-out pass off of play-action, especially on third down to methodically move the ball down the field, and a 24-yard run by senior running back Aiden Jackson put the ball at the Austin 5-yard line. On the ninth play of the drive, Jackson powered into the end zone from 5 yards out, and Johnson’s extra point put the Trojans back in front, 14-10.
The Packers came storming right back on their next possession as starting from their 20 after another touchback, Lang threw a perfect fade pass to Guy deep to the left side of the field on the first play of the drive, and the 45-yard connection quickly moved the ball to the New Prague 35-yard line. Lang found Osgood later on a 13-yard connection, and as the game moved into the 4th quarter, Lang connected with Guy on a 6-yard touchdown pass to put Austin back out in front 17-14.
The see-saw affair in the second half continued on the next drive as starting from their 20, the Trojans picked up one first down before facing 2nd and 9 from their own 42. Seymour again put on a play-action fake, this time to his right and rolled left where he threw a pass under heavy pressure into the flat, where the ball was caught by tight end Jake Hemann, but he was tackled immediately for a loss of 1 yard to set up what looked to be 3rd and 10. A flag was thrown, however, for what was ruled a blow to the head of Seymour, and the 15-yard walk-off against the Packers gave the Trojans new life and a first down. New Prague used that momentum to again grind the ball down the field, and on the thirteenth play of the drive, Nathan Burkhardsmeier rumbled into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 4 yards out, and the Trojans went back in front, 21-17.
Austin started their next drive from their own 22, and with time ticking away late in the 4th quarter, the Packer passing game went back to work as a sliding catch by Ransom for 23 yards gave Austin a first down near midfield. On the sixth play of the drive, however, a slant pass to Guy was intercepted by outside linebacker Jake Hemann, and his 65-yard return for a touchdown gave New Prague a 28-17 lead.
Now down two scores with just under four minutes left, the Packers started their next drive from their own 22, but a fired-up Trojan defense registered a sack on 4th and long, and the turnover on downs gave the ball back to the New Prague offense at the Austin 15. The Trojan offense then used their ground game for five plays to move the ball inside the Packer 5-yard line to run out the clock and seal the win.
With the loss, Austin is now 1-2 on the season, and the Packers return to action at Art Hass Stadium next Friday night versus the Owatonna Huskies for Homecoming. You’ll hear the game on AM 1480 KAUS, with the Austin Packers pre-game show coming your way at 6:30 p.m., and kickoff at 7:00 p.m.