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Second-half surge carries Arrows past Central

Aberdeen Central’s Cooper Eisenbeisz, far right, tries to run past Watertown’s Markus Pitkin, center, as Central’s Brayden Comstock, second from the left, blocks the Arrows’ Owen Spartz (35) while Austin Johnson (9) joins the chase on the punt return by Eisenbeisz during a recent game at Brownell Activities Complex. Eisenbeisz scored a touchdown in a setback at Watertown Thursday night. Photo by John Davis taken 9/29/2023

WATERTOWN – It was a shootout early, but Watertown took control late, scoring all 21 second-half points en route to a 42-17 win over Aberdeen Central in the opening round of the Class 11AA playoffs Thursday night at Watertown Stadium.

In a misty, wet opening quarter, the Golden Eagles threw the game’s first punch, blocking a Watertown punt and turning it into a Joey Dallman field goal.

It was the last lead Central would enjoy.

“Literally and figuratively, the ball didn’t bounce our way,” said Central coach Justin Briese.

Watertown threw a counter-punch at the Golden Eagles on the next drive, going 53 yards for a touchdown on a fake punt, then tacking on a second score later in the quarter.

Bryce Beitelspacher and Cooper Eisenbeisz scored touchdowns for the Golden Eagles in the second quarter, and Central trailed just 21-17 at the half.

Brayden Comstock kept Central’s spirits alive with his ninth interception of the season on Watertown’s first drive of the second half, but the Arrows again had a counter, this time a strip-sack of Central’s Parker Lemer. Jayden Lambert scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown, and the Arrows never looked back.

Aberdeen Central’s Brayden Comstock, right, tries to intercept a pass intended for Watertown’s Mitch Olson, left, during a recent game at Brownell Activities Complex. Photo by John Davis taken 9/29/2023

“Things just kind of got away from us in the second half,” Briese said. “We open the half with that interception and had some momentum going our direction, but we gave up too many things on defense.”

The loss ends Central’s season at 4-6 overall.

“(The kids) came out every day in practice and worked hard,” Briese said. “It’s humbling to see how much they cared. … You could see in their face and their eyes, it hurt.”

Aberdeen Central (4-6) 3 14 0 0 – 17

Watertown (7-3) 14 7 14 7 – 42

First Quarter

AC – Joey Dallman 30 FG.

WAT – 53 pass from Spencer Wientjes (kick good).

WAT – touchdown.

Second Quarter

AC – Bryce Bietelspacher 2 run (Dallman kick).

WAT – Juven Hudson 25 run (kick).

AC – Cooper Eisenbeisz 25 pass from Parker Lemer (Dallman kick).

Third Quarter

WAT – Jayden Lambert fumble recovery (kick).

WAT – Wientjes 3 run (kick).

Fourth Quarter

WAT – Wientjes run (kick).

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