CEDAR FALLS — It’s a fundamental, unwritten rule of football. Coaches preach it from the Pee Wees to the pros.
Play to the whistle.
Brennan Sweeney did, and got an unexpected reward. A gift.
Sweeney was credited with a 27-yard fumble return for touchdown, the first score of the game, in Waukon’s 28-14 victory over Central Lyon/George-Little Rock in the Class 2A state football final Friday afternoon at the UNI-Dome.
A lineman’s dream, right?
“You have to remember, big boys don’t like running,” said Sweeney, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. “But yeah, that was pretty fun.”
The first three drives of the game — two by Waukon, one by CL-GLR — ended in punts, and the Lions took over at their 31-yard line with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
Quarterback Zach Lutmer faded back and threw a swing pass to his left that skidded along the turf.
Forward pass? Lateral? It was close.
“I saw the beanbag come out, so I assumed the play was still live,” Waukon Coach Chad Beermann said. “The kids are taught to keep playing.”
Sweeney said, “I saw Lincoln (Snitker) run for the ball, and he kind of pushed it to me. So I picked it up and ran.”
Sweeney made it to the end zone untouched, and the accompanying two-point run by Ethan O’Neill put the Indians in front, 8-0.
They led the rest of the way.
“Obviously, that’s a huge play,” Beermann said.
It was just one of numerous appearances in the CL-GLR backfield for Sweeney. He also sacked quarterback Zach Lutmer once and collected 3.5 tackles for loss.
“(Lutmer), he was deadly,” Sweeney said. “It was my role, me and (fellow defensive end) Braden Hemann, to watch him, spy on him.”
Waukon held CL-GLR to 58 yards and no points in the second half. And Creed Welch collected two of his three interceptions after intermission as the Indians pulled away.
It was 16-14 at halftime, but the Lions marched into Waukon territory just once in the second half. Down 22-14, they got to the Indians 35 before Welch intercepted a deep pass early in the fourth quarter.
“Creed is a great cover-three free safety. He can get to hash to hash quickly and can really break on the ball,” Beermann said.
Welch has been a two-way player since his sophomore year.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better on defense that I was as a sophomore,” he said.
CL-GLR came into the game averaging 368 yards per game, but managed just 204 Friday.
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