Wauconda has the answer for R-B's comeback
Wauconda junior Brock Pfeiffer had quite a nose for the football Friday.
That especially held true on the game-changing play to end the first half.
With two defenders on him, Pfeiffer caught and completed a 32-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Logan Olsen to keep Wauconda in control for a 35-21 victory over visiting Riverside-Brookfield.
"The second I caught that, I turned around. I saw the goal line. It's like, 'I've got to dive.' There's no time (left)," Pfeiffer said. "Kids were wrapping up my legs, I dove and I got it across. I looked across and I could see the ref with the touchdown (sign) and I knew I was in."
Wauconda is 2-0 for the third straight season. This season's seventh consecutive Week 2 meeting between the teams in nine-game regular seasons featured two first-year head coaches.
R-B (1-1) kept coming but Wauconda managed to answer right away to regain two-possession leads. Running back Connor Vanselow broke through for in the second half with 149 of his 173 rushing yards and two of his three rushing TDs.
"(Our second half) was like no better feeling. It was great," Vanselow said. "Our entire team picked it up in the second half. Holes were opening up, huge blocking downfield. It was amazing."
As a receiver, Pfeiffer had four catches for 96 yards. Olsen passed for 157 yards and completed 9 of 16 passes. As a defensive back, Pfeiffer had two interceptions, the latter at the 4 in the final moments.
With five picks in 2021, Pfeiffer enjoyed a night probably even more enjoyable than his pick-six in last season's opener.
"I just had a great game today. I was playing on some different level. I don't know (why)," Pfeiffer said.
Wauconda jumped to a 14-0 lead but then R-B found its offensive groove after no first downs in the first quarter. Three fumble recoveries, two by Marques Turner, also helped. Turner's second recovery at the Wauconda 19 led to a 6-yard TD run by quarterback Diego Gutierrez to close to 14-7 just 33.8 seconds before halftime.
When Wauconda started its drive at the 27, at first it appeared like the Bulldogs would simply run out the clock. A 36-yard bomb from Olsen to Pfeiffer to the R-B 32 changed that. Two plays later, with only 3.4 seconds left, came the big TD.
"We put defense in a miserable spot, turning the ball over. We figured we had decent enough field position. Let's give it a shot," Wauconda coach Chris Prostka said. "Brock made a big play. A big play."
R-B's third fumble recovery at midfield by Giovanny Gonzalez started its second scoring drive, a 1-yard keeper by Gutierrez on the last play of the third quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Vanselow blew through the middle for a 74-yard TD run.
"He was a workhorse in the second half. The O-line opened up for him, made some nice holes. He bounced a couple. He's a tough runner. He's fast," Prostka said.
R-B answered with a 98-yard TD drive capped by Gutierrez's 4-yard TD pass to Ignace Bielobradek. Wauconda then scored again on Vanselow's 18-yard run with 3:02 to go.
"They're a very good football team. We just made little mistakes. It was kind of indicative of the week we had in practice," R-B coach Sam Styler said. "It was tough. Little things are going to add up and cost you football games. Until we start doing little things well, it's not going to end up good for us."
Wauconda's first two TDs came on a x-yard run by Vanselow, who then delivered the key block for Nikolas Smith's 34-yard end-around TD run with 9:29 left until halftime. Pfeiffer's interception at the R-B 44 initiated the drive. R-B junior David Valencia rushed for 90 yards and Gutierrez passed for 112.
Ryan Novak, the rushing star of the season-opening win at Morton, started at linebacker but saw limited time on offense.