SCHOFIELD, Wis.—Peter Kuchta ran for a touchdown with under a minute remaining, and the Cougars’ defense came up with a huge interception to push Coleman past Regis 28-22 in the WIAA Division 7 state semifinal Friday at D.C. Everest.
Kuchta punched in a 16-yard score with 59 seconds remaining and Will Bieber tacked on the 2-point conversion run to give Coleman the lead.
The Cougars then intercepted a desperation pass from Kendon Krogman with four seconds left to secure the victory and punch their ticket to the school’s first-ever state championship game.
Kuchta finished the game with 80 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries, drawing praise from his head coach after the game.
“Peter Kuchta was not going to be stopped,” Coleman coach Jeff Bronson said. “He’s a special, special athlete.”
Kuchta’s game-winning scamper capped off a wild back-and-forth affair with Regis taking a 14-point lead in the first quarter behind 3-yard runs from Jack Weisenberger and Zander Rockow, only to see the Cougars reel off 22 unanswered points.
Kuchta scored on an 11-yard run before Bieber added a 13-yard scoring run as Coleman knotted up the score at 14-14 entering halftime.
Kuchta added a 17-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that put Coleman on top 22-14.
Despite the early deficit, Bronson said that the Cougars remained calm.
“They’re resilient. I think it comes down to all the big games they’ve been in,” he said. “They’ve been in state tournaments for baseball, sectionals for basketball, in wrestling they’ve been there. So our kids, they know how to fight.”
Coleman appeared set to put the Ramblers on ice midway through the fourth quarter after driving down to the Regis 2-yard line, but the Ramblers defense held on fourth down to keep it a one-score contest.
The Ramblers embarked on a 99-yard drive that Weisenberger finished off with a 39-yard touchdown run, making it a 22-22 game.
That set the stage for Coleman’s game-winning drive.
“It was a close game. At some point, good teams are going to beat other good teams,” Regis coach Bryant Brenner said. “These guys have got nothing to be ashamed of. They left it all out on the field tonight. We just came up a bit short on the scoreboard.”
Rockow finished the night with 15 carries for 111 yards, Weisenberger added eight carries for 79 yards, and Gus Theisen chipped in 86 yards on 17 carries.
“Sometimes you don’t end up on the right side of the scoreboard, but you’ve got to take life lessons from that,” Brenner said. “Tonight’s one of those nights. Our program hasn’t lost a lot of games over the last four, five years. Sometimes a loss can be difficult to deal with, but there’s lessons here too.”
Regis was seeking its second trip to the state championship game in three years but will instead finish 12-1.
“Their (Regis’s) program speaks for itself,” Bronson said. “You talk about small-school football, Regis is right there with all the other names—probably first.”
The Cougars (15-0) racked up 340 yards of total offense, with Owen Kinziger backing up Kuchta’s big night with 14 carries for 72 yards. Bieber tallied 10 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown, and caught one pass for 33 yards.
Noah Nosgovitz completed four-of-eight passing for 76 yards and added another 23 yards on the ground. Joe Olsen caught one pass for 34 yards while Tieg Sadowski hauled in one ball for nine yards.
Coleman now turns its attention to the state championship game, which will see the Cougars battle Reedsville (6-1 Big East Conference, 12-1 overall) at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday.
The Panthers defeated Cashton 47-8 in their semifinal game.
Thursday’s game kicks off at 10 a.m.