Messwood football loses ugly to South Milwaukee
Sloppy execution, penalties mar first-round playoff game
Friday night's rematch between the South Milwaukee Rockets and the Shorewood/Messmer Greyhounds looked more like a typical first football game of the season rather than a first-round playoff contest.
Both teams were called for numerous penalties, committed costly turnovers and were guilty of shooting themselves in the foot.
The host Rockets, however, were able to overcome their miscues and hold on for a 21-13 victory, eight weeks after beating the Greyhounds, 28-7, in the season opener.
"A win in the playoffs is still a win, and the big thing, we hadn't won in a couple of weeks," Rockets coach John Galewski said. "We didn't think it would be easy, and we knew that they would be improved. Their quarterback and their running game were really improved, and they have those two big-time players (defensive linemen Tywan Ramsey and Jonathan Carson), and we knew we'd have to deal with that.
"Our confidence was staggered a little; this might do something to improve that."
The victory sent the Rockets (8-2) to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2010 after back-to-back first-round exits. They will play Waterford (8-2) next weekend.
Elusive playoff win
For the Midwest Classic champion Greyhounds (7-3), who were making their third straight postseason appearance after a 30-year absence, the wait for the program's first-ever playoff victory continues.
"I'm very, very proud of these seniors," Greyhounds coach Drake Zortman said. "They came out and battled tonight. It was a three-score game the last time we played South Milwuakee and it's a one-score game tonight. It shows how much we improved."
Junior running back Ian Pribyl rushed for a game-high 126 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, eclipsing the 1,000-yard plateau on the season. His two-yard TD plunge with 5 minutes, 52 seconds left in the contest put the Rockets ahead by the final margin.
"It feels so great to win a playoff game," Pribyl said. "It's the first time for me and a lot of my teammates."
The visiting co-op had one last shot with 1:10 remaining, but South Milwaukee's Alex Hoover intercepted a long pass down the right sideline to seal the win.
"The defense was great, they really were," Galewski said.
Miscues for both teams
Just before Pribyl's second touchdown, the Greyhounds suffered through an ugly drive. Trailing, 14-13, Messwood took possession at its own 20-yard line after blocking a Rockets' field-goal attempt. A run for a 3-yard loss, a false start penalty and an incomplete pass, set up a challenging third-and-18 situation.
South Milwaukee defensive tackle Xavier Bitseedy took advantage and sacked Greyhounds quarterback Taylor Dennis for nine yards. Messwood was then called for three consecutive penalties while trying to punt the ball deep out of their end zone, and when they finally were able, the Rockets' Zach Osell ripped off a solid 30-yard return to set up Pribyl's score.
As bad as it went for the Greyhounds on that possession, things did not go much better for the Rockets one possession earlier. Penalties wiped out two scoring plays — a 20-yard pass from quarterback Justin Oliden and later a short run by Pribyl — before the blocked field goal try.
The Greyhounds, who managed only 46 yards of total offense in the first half, looked like a different team on their first possession after halftime. They rattled off 16 plays and chewed up nearly seven minutes before Louis Williams scored from four yards out. The extra-point, however, was wide left and the Rockets clung to a 14-13 lead.
Messwood took advantage of a South Milwaukee miscue midway through the first quarter. After a botched pitch gave the Greyhounds the ball at the Rockets eight-yard line, Williams scored from six yards out and the extra point gave Messwood a 7-0 advantage.
The Rockets evened the score at 7-7 with a nine-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter, highlighted by a 35-yard pass from Oliden to A.J. Plewa and capped off by Pribyl's 4-yard run with 8:21 left in the first half.
"He's our guy," Galewski said of Pribyl. "Every team's got their guy they go to, and he's ours."
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