Owatonna’s Comeback Win Reminiscent of Another Playoff Victory
The scenario was similar with the Huskies trailing in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. In each case the defense made some plays and the offense finished the job.
In Saturday's 28-24 win over Apple Valley, the defense prevented the Eagles from gaining a first down late in the game after an OHS turnover set up Apple Valley deep in Huskies territory. Apple Valley kicked a field goal for the 24-21 lead, but a first down would have given them the chance to run out the clock first. Instead, Owatonna's offense drove the length of the field and won the game on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Abe Havelka to Alex Raichle with 17.6 seconds remaining.
Back in 1998 the situation seemed a bit more dire. OHS was down 16-0 halfway through the fourth quarter of the section title game at Austin. Current OHS coach Matt Skala was a senior linebacker and running back on that squad. He said the team got hot at the end. After scoring a touchdown with 5:50 remaining, the play of the season occurred when Tony Hamer blitzed the Packers' quarterback, knocking the ball from his hand into the arms of Skala, who took it the distance for a touchdown. The defense held again and the Huskies ultimately won 21-16 to reach the state tournament, advancing to the Prep Bowl before falling to Hutchinson.
Regarding the more recent dramatic win, Skala said he was proud the team never panicked. He says the extra days off Owatonna had due to being the No. 1 seed were used to practice the hurry-up offense, Hail Mary plays, trick plays and going as fast as they could. Of the game-winning catch Skala said, "We thought we could sneak Jason Williamson up the seam and we did. And surprisingly he got by the safety. My brother Nate and I were on the headsets saying 'Throw to Jason. Throw to Jason.' And Abe bought a little bit of time and he actually was throwing to Jason down the field and there was a cross wind and it wasn't easy conditions. Ultimately what ended up happening was Raichle said it's my ball and went and got it."
For his part, Raichle told KRFO there was "no time to think. You just have to react and just go get the ball." He says he undercut the defenders and caught the ball at about the two- or three-yard line. "I rolled over the defender into the end zone."
The game against Apple Valley also included an amazing end to the first half with a Hail Mary pass that Jay Sullivan caught in a scrum of players and took into the end zone for a 14-7 lead at the break.
The Huskies, who played in the first Prep Bowl in the Metrodome, now help debut US Bank Stadium, which is hosting its first state football tournament. Owatonna plays Elk River on Friday at 2PM in the semifinals. The winner adavances to the Prep Bowl on Saturday, November 26, at 4PM. Mankato West and Spring Lake Park meet in this Saturday's other Class 5A semifinal.