In the final minutes of a 21-17 victory over Menomonee Falls on Sept. 23, West Allis Central football coach Keith Ringelberg learned something about his team.
Ringelberg hopes the Bulldogs also were able to learn something about themselves.
Central trailed the Indians, 17-14, with three minutes remaining in the game and had the ball on its own 20-yard line with no timeouts.
The Bulldogs, with their season clearly on the line, calmly put together an 80-yard drive and scored on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Griffin Johnson to tight end Jared Welsch with just 22 seconds left to pull out the victory.
That was Welsch's third touchdown reception from Johnson on the evening.
"You don't want to have to live through that too many times," Ringelberg said, "but it was great to see the guys do that. They showed resiliency, and they proved that they can come back. They really showed great grit during that sequence."
Playoff hopes alive
The victory moved the Bulldogs to 2-2 in the Greater Metro Conference (3-3 overall) and kept their WIAA playoff hopes alive. They need to win two of their remaining three contests to qualify for the playoffs.
They meet second-place Marquette (3-1 in the GMC) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at the West Allis Athletic Complex. They then visit Sussex Hamilton on Friday, Oct. 7, and Wauwatosa East at Hart Park on Friday, Oct. 14, to close the regular season.
Central is still entertaining playoff possibilities due to its late drive to beat Falls.
That march was highlighted by a 35-yard pass from Johnson to Xavier Mullins, which carried to the Falls' 25-yard line. Central then picked up a first down on the 10-yard line, and on third down, still from the 10, Johnson found Welsch with the winning pass.
"We were able to get out of bounds, and there were some first downs to stop the clock," Ringelberg said. "There was also an official's timeout for some reason, and that really helped us."
Welsch got Central started in the game by hauling in an 18-yard scoring pass in the second quarter for a 7-3 halftime edge. He then caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Johnson in the third period to put the Bulldogs ahead, 14-3.
Falls, though, rallied with two scores to go up, 17-14, and held that lead heading into the final three minutes.
Johnson completed 19 of 27 passes for 191 yards and the three touchdowns. In the last two games, he has hit 37 of 47 passes with seven scores.
Welsch catches seven
Welsch caught seven passes for 89 yards and the three scores and Mullins' five passes for 73 yards. Glenn Martin led the rushing attack with 64 yards on 14 carries.
Ringelberg was happy about beating Falls, which has been a nemesis to Central. He said the Bulldogs had not beaten the Indians for a number of years, possibly as long as 17 seasons.
"This is a big, big victory," he said. "This is a big hump to get over."