A pair of scary moments aside, Hartley High School senior tight end and linebacker Jacob Matuska described his emotions after beating visiting Watterson 28-14 on Sept. 28 as being on par with winning a state title in 2010.
Led by Matuska and classmates Ja’Wuan Woodley and Marcellus Calhoun, Hartley improved to 6-0 and Watterson fell to 3-3 after the non-league matchup.
In addition to Hartley improving to 4-29 in the all-time series against Watterson, a referee was taken away in an ambulance during the second quarter and a portion of the visiting bleachers collapsed in the second half.
“Ever since we were freshmen we’ve been asking when we were going to play Watterson,” Matuska said. “We’ve only had three other victories over Watterson, so in my heart it feels bigger than the state championship.”
Hartley established the tone on the game’s first play from scrimmage when Woodley took a handoff and completed a 71-yard pass to Alonzo Saxton to move his team to the Watterson 3-yard line. Two plays later, Calhoun scored on a 3-yard run.
“We put (the halfback pass) in on Monday because we know the first play is going to set the tone for the game,” Woodley said.
Watterson appeared on its way to tying the game on the ensuing possession, but a 14-play drive that started at the Eagles’ 27 was thwarted when Walter Green fumbled at the goal line and the Hawks’ Trevonn Brown picked up the ball in the end zone.
Calhoun made it 14-0 on a 17-yard run that capped the ensuing drive for Hartley, but Watterson again drove deep into Hartley territory before quarterback Andy Elberson was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1 by the Hawks’ defensive line.
Two plays later, Hartley’s Sam Mackowiak rushed for 1 yard and head referee Julius Palazzo collapsed on the field. After CPR was performed, he was placed on a stretcher 13 minutes later and gave a thumbs-up sign.
The Hawks took a 21-0 lead with 12.7 seconds left in the first half when quarterback Jared Brandewie hit Matuska in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown. On third-and-6 from the Watterson 43 on the play before, Brandewie connected with Matuska for a 37-yard reception.
Woodley, who led Hartley with 134 yards rushing, scored on a 29-yard run with 8:42 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles made it 28-7 with 3:49 left in the third period on a 7-yard run by Elberson and cut it to 28-14 with 7:06 to go on a 1-yard run by DeAndre Golden. Hartley recovered an onside-kick attempt, however, and Woodley later intercepted a pass by Elberson to seal the win.
“You’ve just got to bounce back from adversity,” Green said. “We never gave up on ourselves because that’s what Eagles’ football is all about.”
H--Calhoun 3 run (Barringer kick)
H--Calhoun 17 run (Barringer kick)
H--Matuska 6 pass from Brandewie (Barringer kick)
H--Woodley 29 run (Barringer kick)
W--Elberson 7 run (Harper kick)
W--Golden 1 run (Harper kick)