Despite having three touchdowns called back by penalties, New Berlin Eisenhower persevered.
The Lions used two late scores to overcome the points that were taken off the board in a 31-21 comeback win over Woodland East champion Greenfield in a crossover game Oct. 7.
"Anytime that stuff happens in a game, it is emotional, and guys start getting frustrated," Eisenhower coach Matt Kern said. "But our guys have done a better job as the year as gone on of recognizing those situations when they come up and trying to handle them the right way. That was a positive for us (against Greenfield)."
After a 20-yard field goal by Bryce Wesling gave Eisenhower a 3-0 lead, the teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter.
Greenfield quarterback Rayvonn Bartlett Jr. scored from 2 yards out to put the Hustlin' Hawks in front early in the second quarter, but Eisenhower took a 10-7 lead at the break on a 1-yard scoring run by Joey Scaffidi with 5:47 to play in the half.
Bartlett broke an 88-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to put Greenfield up 14-10.
Eisenhower (6-2 overall) then went on an 18-play drive that took 7 minutes, 21 seconds off the clock but did not put any points on the board, as five flags were also thrown on the drive, two of which wiped out touchdown runs.
After Scaffidi was stopped on 3rd and goal from the 1, the Lions snapped the ball too early on fourth down, which forced quarterback Bryce Miller to have to improvise. Miller scrambled but was dropped back at the 19-yard line, giving the ball back to Greenfield (6-2).
The play that flipped momentum back in Eisenhower's favor came from its defense.
Brett Angiolo intercepted Bartlett but fumbled on the return. However, Jaron Radish picked up the ball at the Hawks' 22-yard line and ran it in to give the Lions a 17-14 lead with 11:13 left.
"It was huge," Kern said. "When you are in a game that's going back and forth and is looking like it is going to be a one-score game, getting a score on defense was definitely important. Turnovers is something we emphasize a lot. To have one show up in a big spot was important."
Greenfield, which ran the table in the Woodland East, went back in front with 7:56 to play on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Bartlett to Samuel Streeter.
Jayden Olson returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back due to an illegal block in the back.
Needing to again overcome having points taken off the board, Eisenhower put together a drive that culminated with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Sullivan Kulju with 2:26 on the clock.
"Even as coaches you start getting caught up in the emotion of the flags," Kern said. "You have to remind yourself, just like you are reminding the players, that you just have to focus and execute. We had a 4th and 6 on that drive that we had to convert. We had some tough plays that had to be made. The touchdown pass that gave us the lead was a heck of a throw.
"The two games we've lost, those were not strengths for us, handling momentum swings and some adversity. It was nice to see that we did it in a big spot."
The Hawks were driving into Lion territory when Boden Saikie corralled a tipped Bartlett pass for an interception with 49 seconds to play. Scaffidi then rattled off a 46-yard touchdown run to put the game away.
"They started to find some things in the second half, which is a credit to them," Kern said. "They hadn't been in a lot of close games, so we were curious to see how they would handle a tight game in the fourth quarter.
"They played well in the fourth quarter. They put together a nice drive in answering our score late. They were moving the ball on us there (at the end). We were in the right place in the right time on the interception, but we'll take it."
Scaffidi returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury to rush for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Jake Belongia gained 37 yards on nine attempts, while Miller was 8-for-13 for 109 yards.
Eisenhower will close the regular season with a crossover game at Shorewood/Messmer on Oct. 14.
With a win over the Greyhounds (6-2, 4-1), the already playoff-eligible Lions will likely improve their playoff seed and draw.
"The nice thing with the crossover games is you get teams that are in a similar spot to you and have had good seasons," Kern said. "We're looking forward to going out there and playing at Shorewood and then having the seeding meeting next Saturday and getting into the playoffs."