STOUGHTON — On the game-clinching play, Brady Schipper found himself running down the sideline toward the end zone.
It was a fitting ending for the Stoughton senior running back — even if he was cheering on a teammate.
Schipper accounted for four touchdowns Friday night, but it was senior tight end Max Fernholz who caught Jonathan Malueg’s pass to convert a critical third-and-2 late in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the Vikings’ 30-27 Homecoming victory against Oregon.
“I saw him running down the sidelines,” Schipper said of Fernholz’s 62-yard reception. “I was running down with him. I was like, ‘Score! Score! Score!’ I ran down and celebrated with him, because I knew after that we clinched the victory.”
Fernholz didn’t quite find the end zone, but he delivered the final blow to an Oregon team that, just moments earlier, had come painfully close to tying things up. A 40-yard field goal attempt from Jack Haufle was denied by the crossbar with just under 3 minutes to go.
“You’ve got to respect coach Kissling and Oregon,” Stoughton coach Dan Prahl said. “In my honest opinion, that’s a playoff team right there, so this was really good for our guys.
“Oregon-Stoughton, throw the records out. I don’t care what it is. It’s an awesome game. It’s a great rivalry right now.”
Schipper finished with 260 yards on 31 carries, but Oregon (3-3 overall, 2-2 Badger South Conference) made him grind his way through much of the first half. The Panthers, on the other hand, recorded a pair of first-half scores on touchdown passes from Cedric Girard to Kardelle Phillips and took a 13-10 lead into the halftime break.
“Looking at the stats, we went into halftime, (and) we only had 19 plays on offense,” Prahl said. “We knew that was unacceptable. Our defense was on the field for way too long. But they stayed the course.”
They also got a little more help from the Vikings offense in the second half. Stoughton (6-0, 4-0) found the end zone on every second-half drive except the last one, with Schipper scoring on runs of 1 and 67 yards, and catching a 27-yard pass from Malueg.
Oregon looked to its ground game for the counterpunch, as Phillips and Keion Szudy traded touchdown runs with Schipper near the end of the third quarter. But then, typifying Prahl’s bend-but-don’t-break approach, the Stoughton defense had just enough left in the tank when it mattered. Plagued by penalties late, the Panthers were forced to settle for the long field goal attempt that fell just short.
Then, on the ensuing drive’s critical third-down conversion deep in Stoughton territory, Prahl opted to get creative.
“We knew we kept setting it up, just diving Schipper in the middle,” Prahl said. “And we knew we could get Max on the edge. Brady comes off to the side to just remind me about the play we put in this week to get Max out there on the edge, and (Malueg) put it on him (with) a nice little touch.”
That decisive play left Fernholz with one regret, however.
“I just wish I was a little bit faster,” he said.
Oregon 7 6 7 7 — 27
Stoughton 3 7 13 7 — 30
O — Phillips 10 pass from Girard (Haufle kick)
S — FG McHone 30
O — Phillips 21 pass from Girard (kick failed)
S — Schipper 4 run (McHone kick)
S — Schipper 1 run (kick failed)
O — Szudy 23 run (Haufle kick)
S — Schipper 67 run (McHone kick)
O — Phillips 12 run (Haufle kick)
S — Schipper 27 pass from Malueg (McHone kick)
First downs — O 19, S 19. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — O 36-180, S 41-296. Passing yards — O 236, S 187. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — O 14-24-0, S 8-9-0. Fumbles-lost — O 0-0, S 1-1. Penalties-yards — O 11-105, S 7-55.
Rushing: O, Szudy 19-90. S, Schipper 31-260.
Passing: O, Girard 14-24-0-236. S, Malueg 8-9-0-187.
Receiving: O, Phillips 6-91. S, Sernholz 2-59.