BELOIT—It’s been a long while since the Beloit Memorial football team has posted three victories.
“Since 2000,” Beloit Memorial head coach Brad Dement said. “I looked it up myself. They’ve had three wins once since then, but that was by playing a 10th game, so that doesn’t count.”
Dement and his Purple Knights secured victory number three in thrilling fashion Friday night when a 36-yard field goal by Griffin Oberneder with 1:28 remaining secured a 24-21 win over Madison La Follette.
The Knights still have an outside chance at qualifying for the WIAA Division 1 playoffs for the first time since 1999, but must defeat visiting Madison Memorial and receive plenty of help from other games in order to be in the field.
Regardless of their postseason future, the mood on a Homecoming night in Beloit was jubilant.
A jam-packed Beloit student section cheered wildly whenever the Knights made one of several big plays. The award-winning pep band belted out the tunes, and the community came out in great numbers to support the most successful Knights team in two decades.
“Having the fans there, that meant so much to us,” Beloit running back Cavari Kramer said. “I’ve never seen the fans so packed. It made a huge difference. When you hear the fans screaming for you, it just turns you into a different player.”
Kramer was a huge factor in the game’s outcome, going for well over 100 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The Knights opened the scoring with under a minute to play in the first quarter, as Oberneder, a quarterback and a defensive back in addition to his kicking duties, plunged in from a yard out to make it 7-0.
Kramer’s run made it 14-0, but the Lancers responded with a long drive of their own to make it 14-7 with 2:52 left.
It took the Knights all of 11 seconds to respond. Sophomore Toby Robinson took the ensuing kickoff back 90 yards for a Knights score and a 21-7 lead at the break.
La Follette came out strong in the third quarter, taking advantage of a short field after a Beloit turnover and scoring to make it 21-14.
The score would stay that way, with the Knights getting their fourth interception of the game to stave off a Lancer drive, until the fourth quarter.
La Follette pieced together a long drive with a touchdown at the 4:26 mark to tie the game.
The Knights responded. Facing a second-and-17 from their own 31, Kramer ripped off a game-changing 26-yard scamper that sent the Knights well on their way to a game-winning drive.
Despite the light rain that fell on and off throughout the game, making footing questionable, Oberneder was confident about his game-winning opportunity.
“I felt pretty good if we could get the ball to the 30-yard line, and we were inside that,” Oberneder said. “I felt really good about it. The boys were all supporting me, they did a great job of blocking and getting the hold down. I slipped on my follow-thru, but got enough of it to go in.”
Dement said the victory is yet another sign the program is coming together.
“What it means is they are buying into what we are telling them, and they are continuing to fight,” Dement said. “Now, we still have a long ways to go and room for improvement, but from where we’ve been the last 20 years, this is exciting. This is moving in the right direction.”