Nov. 16, 2023
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
Aquinas (13-1) won its third consecutive Division 5 state championship late Thursday afternoon topping Wrightstown (11-3) 32-13 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The action was frantic in the first quarter and the Tigers got off to a hot start. Wrightstown quickly led 13-0 before Aquinas scored 32 unanswered points in the game.
How it went down
Wrightstown, playing in their white jerseys and Tiger blue pants, forced a turnover on the first play of the game. Aiden Humphreys recovered a fumble that squirted out of a scrum near the line of scrimmage. Humphreys scored on a 4-yard run a few plays later to take advantage of the short field.
After Wrightstown’s defense forced an Aquinas punt, quarterback Trevor Vande Hey, who is committed to play baseball at the University of Iowa, rushed away for a 59-yard touchdown on a quarterback sweep to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead.
Aquinas responded with a 6 play, 60-yard drive where Brady Lehnner scored on fourth-and-1 from the 3-yard line. David Malin converted a 2-point run to cut the deficit to 13-8 with 5:03 left in the quarter.
On their next possession, Aquinas took the lead when Lehnner scored again with 10:22 left in the second quarter after the defense forced a Wrightstown three-and-out and the offense took the ball on a 13-play 94-yard drive down the field. Walter Berns threw a 2-point conversion pass to quarterback Jacob Thornton on a double-reverse trick play to put Aquinas up 16-13.
The Blugolds never trailed again.
Aquinas scored on their next possession with a 9-yard David Malin touchdown and a Tyson Martin conversion run to build a 24-13 halftime lead. Aquinas had more than 200 yards of rushing in the first half.
In the second half, Kyle White broke free for a 59-yard run and after a conversion pass, the Blugolds were up 32-13. Wrightstown was stopped on Aquinas’ side of the field on a fourth down with 1:28 left in the third quarter. The drive lasted 13 plays, 64 yards and more than six minutes. Wrightstown returned the favor on the ensuing drive by stopping Aquinas on a fourth down stop.
The Tigers went on another long drive that went late into the fourth quarter and reached the Aquinas’ 5-yard line before Vande Hey was intercepted in the end zone with 4:51 remaining in the game.
Aquinas subsequently ran out the remaining time in the game.
Vande Hey finished 3-of-6 passes for 19 yards and rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown. Aiden Humphreys rushed for 43 yards. Kyle White rushed for 240 yards for the Blugolds. Aquinas finished with 378 yards on the ground.
Wrightstown’s run to the WIAA Division 5 State Championship game was impressive. The Tigers beat Sturgeon Bay 29-12 at home in Level 1, won at Southern Door 21-6 in Level 2, beat Wittenberg-Birnamwood 41-17 in Level 3 and Saint Croix Falls 33-12 in Level 4.
The run to state led to Wrightstown’s fourth title game appearance, in addition to the 1998, 2006 and 2011 teams that won state championships.
Gametime temperature on Thursday was 59 degrees and started with a little daylight shortly after 4 p.m.
The game was broadcast statewide by the WIAA and viewed locally on WCWF-TV (CW Network) with announcers Jay Wilson and former Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers running back Gary Ellerson.
Wrightstown: Aiden Humphreys 4 run (Daniel Buntin PAT) 10:35
Wrightstown: Trevor Vande Hey 59 run (Daniel Buntin failed PAT) 7:35
Aquinas: Brady Lehnerr 3 run (David Malin conversion run) 5:03
Aquinas: Brady Lehnner 4 run (Jacob Thornton conversion pass from Walter Berns) 10:22
Aquinas: David Malin 9 run (Tyson Martin conversion run) 6:53
Aquinas: Kyle White 59 run (Waler Berns conversion pass from Jacob Thornton) 7:52