South Central Capitalizes on Victoria Turnovers, Advances to 8-Man D-2 Final
VICTORIA-J.T. Prusa accounted for six touchdowns and the South Central defense forced seven turnovers as the Timberwolves rallied to defeat Victoria 42-20 Friday night in the 8-Man Division ll Semifinals at Victoria Junior-Senior High School.
Victoria won the opening coin toss and elected to receive but a harbinger of things to come occurred on the game's first play from scrimmage when Chase Schumacher fumbled and South Central recovered. However, the Knights were able to get a stop on downs and then struck first on the scoreboard on their next series when Schumacher ran in from six yards out and the two-point conversion was good to give Victoria an 8-0 lead.
Victoria then recovered an onsides kick and appeared to be in business but South Central got a stop and stayed within one score. The Timberwolves turned the ball over on their next drive and Victoria took advantage with Schumacher scoring again, this time on a nine-yard pass from Quarterback Landon Schmidtberger. The two-point try was no good and Victoria's lead was 14-0 with 2:56 left in the opening quarter.
South Central then found the end zone for the first time just 21 seconds later on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Prusa to Gavin Uhl to pull to within 14-6 at the end of the first quarter after the two-point conversion failed.
Prusa then found Isaiah Jellison from 18 yards out one play after a Knight turnover and this time the two-pointer was good to tie the score 14-14. On South Central's next series, Prusa scampered 50 yards on the game's longest play from scrimmage to put the Timberwolves ahead 20-14 after the conversion failed. After stopping the Knights on downs, Prusa concluded a five-play, 20-yard drive with a one-yard plunge and the conversion was good, extending South Central's advantage to 28-14 with two minutes remaining before halftime.
Victoria drew closer with 44 seconds left in the first half when Seth Schwein made an outstanding catch in the back of the end zone on a fourth and 11 play but the conversion failed and the Knights trailed 28-20 at intermission.
South Central's first drive of the second half chewed up half the third quarter but the Timberwolves eventually stalled and Victoria took over on their own 10-yard line. However Jamie Sarmiento intercepted a Schmidtberger pass, one of two picks for Sarmiento, and five plays and 20 yards later Prusa scored on another one-yard run to push the Timberwolves lead to 36-20 after three quarters following the successful conversion. Prusa added a 15-yard run for his fourth rushing touchdown of the night in the final quarter to salt the game away and provide the final margin of 42-20.
Prusa who had entered the game with more than 1,600 yards rushing on the season added another 100 yards to his total and ran his touchdown tally to 28 with the four scores to pace South Central (9-3). Schumacher led Victoria with 92 yards on 12 carries with one rushing touchdown and one receiving score.
Victoria (9-2) was done in by an uncharacteristic seven turnovers which included five interceptions thrown by Schmidtbeger. The Knights were also hurt by 112 yards in penalties.
Victoria was playing in their third Sub-State Championship game in four seasons. The Knights also lost to St. Francis in 2020 and Wheatland-Grinnell in 2021. Friday's game was also the last in a Victoria Football uniform for seniors Schmidtberger, Schumacher, Schwien, Kendall Braun and Will Scherrer.