What was on its way to becoming one of the more lopsided games in the history of the matchup between the DeSales and Watterson high school football teams seemed to turn on the momentum of one play Friday in a Division II regional quarterfinal.

The top-seeded Stallions built more than a two-touchdown lead by halftime but were forced to hang on for a 20-17 victory. They advanced to a regional semifinal Nov. 7 against Marion-Franklin.

On the second play of the third quarter, DeSales quarterback Thomas Gentile's pitch attempt to Josh Kusan was knocked away and Watterson's Kevin Obyc picked up the loose ball and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown that cut it to 20-10.

The Eagles made it 20-17 when quarterback Pat Nester hit Matt Schweitzer for a 4-yard touchdown with 3 minutes, 4 seconds remaining, but DeSales got two first downs on the ensuing drive to hold on.
It marks the first time that the Stallions, who improved to 11-0 as the eighth-seeded Eagles finished 5-6, have beaten Watterson twice in the same season. DeSales also won 21-17 on Oct. 3

"At halftime, we felt like we were doing some things well," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "We wanted to move it downfield and break their spirits, but then the worst thing that could have happened happened. In
the second half they just played better. This game always comes down to a couple of plays."

DeSales used a balanced offense to build its halftime lead.

Gentile hit tight end Chris Rock for a 20-yard touchdown with 7:40 left in the opening quarter to make it 7-0. Watterson kicker Seth Willoughby then made a 26-yard field goal with 3:58 left in the first period to cut it to 7-3.

The Stallions controlled the second period on both sides of the ball. Kusan, who finished with 135 yards on 22 rushes, scored on a 2-yard run on the first play of the second quarter.

With 2:30 left before halftime, Adam Griffin intercepted a pass from Nester and returned it 38 yards to the Watterson 27. Four plays later, Gentile hit Ike Ariguzo for a 12-yard touchdown pass that made it 20-3.

Gentile was 4-for-8 passing for 87 yards and rushed for 39 yards as DeSales finished with 301 yards of offense.

Nester was 14-for-26 passing for 104 yards with one touchdown. Ryan Kiger had 13 rushes for 93 yards and had four receptions for 27 yards to lead Watterson.

"(The fumble recovery) gives you a little fuel for the fire, and then you put a couple drives together," Watterson coach Dan Bjelac said. "To their credit, they hung on to the ball until the end."

WATTERSON 3 0 7 7 -- 17
DeSALES 7 13 0 0 -- 20

D--Rock 20 pass from Gentile (Nugent kick)
W--Willoughby 26 FG
D--Kusan 2 run (Nugent kick)
D--I. Ariguzo 12 pass from Gentile (kick blocked)
W--Obyc 22 fumble return (Willoughby kick)
W--Schweitzer 4 pass from Nester (Willoughby kick)