FISHER – The Fisher Bunnies, on the back of Will Delaney, responded from a bad call on the first play of the game and defeated Heyworth 29-23 Friday night in the Bunnies’ homecoming game.
Delaney and the Bunnies ran a read option on the first play of the game. Delaney faked to Tyler Wilson, and the Hornets defense was fooled and rushed to Wilson. The problem was the official was fooled as well and blew his whistle prematurely. As the whistle blew Delaney headed down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown run that did not count due to the whistle being blown.
The Bunnies fumbled three plays later, and the momentum had completely switched over to the Hornets.
Delaney said his team bounced back from adversity.
“Our team is a bunch of dogs; we fought through it and came together as a group, and we believe in ourselves,” he said.
The Bunnies were able to steal the momentum back with 4:44 to go in the first quarter when Delaney made a big play that didn’t get called back. As the Hornets were driving in Bunnies territory, Delaney picked off a pass in the end zone and returned it 102 yards for the score to give the Bunnies a 7-0 lead.
Delaney knew what he wanted to do as soon as he caught the ball.
“I’m thinking take that thing back to the house,” he said.
Bunnies head coach Jake Palmer said Delaney was a big reason for Fisher’s win.
“Will is a kid who is a constant leader, one of the greatest leaders I have ever coached,” Palmer said. “He made big plays down the stretch and gave us a great chance to win the game.”
Levi Nuelieb got the Hornets on the board, running it in from 1 yard out, and the teams were tied at 7 at the end of the first quarter.
Both team’s defenses traded stops before the Bunnies marched down the field and took the lead back with 6:56 to go in the first half on a Tyler Wilson 2-yard touchdown run.
The Hornets tied the game with just 21 seconds to go in the half when Heyworth quarterback Dawson Brooks ran it in from 1 yard out. The score was all knotted up at half at 14-14.
Delaney does it again
Coming out of half, the teams traded three-and-outs up until Delaney made another big play.
The Bunnies quarterback found space and ripped off an 86-yard scoring run. The Bunnies led 21-14.
That’s when the game got even more wild than it already had been.
Brooks found wide receiver Ryan Hickenbottom for a 16-yard touchdown pass to get the Hornets back within 1. The score would then stay at 21-20 when Cale Horsch flew around the edge to block the extra point.
The Hornets defense responded with a stop and gave the ball back to its offense with a chance to take the lead.
The Heyworth offense would, in fact, take the lead for the first time in the game but was only able to get three points on a 20-yard field goal with 3:07 to go in the game.
Trailing 23-21, the Fisher offense went to work.
Riding on the back of Delaney and Wilson, the Bunnies marched down the field and were at the 5 yard line with 20 seconds to go.
Bunnies game winner
On first and goal Delaney rolled out to his right and found Drew Purvis in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass with just 13.3 seconds to go on the clock.
Delaney said the team worked together for that final score.
“Everyone does their job, and we just worked our way down the field, and that’s just how it works,” he said.
The Bunnies would capitalize on the two point conversion when Delaney found Horsch to give them a 29-23 lead.
Fisher made an adjustment to the offensive line on the final drive.
“We made a switch at center; we moved Jed Chow there from tight end,” Palmer said. “He really spark-plugged us on the o-line, and we started getting a push.”
Palmer also gave credit to his senior running back who helped lead the Bunnies down the field.
“Tyler Wilson really earned hard yards up the middle really set us up to score,” he said.
Heyworth tried a desperation hook-and-ladder on the last play but could not find the end zone, and the Bunnies came away with a thrilling homecoming victory.
Palmer said it is always sweeter to win on homecoming.
“Just happy for the guys. They really worked hard during the week. It was the best homecoming week focus I have had since coaching here,” Palmer said. “I am really happy for the guys to finish the week with a win and get to enjoy the weekend.”
Time for Dee-Mack
The Bunnies now head to Deer Creek-Mackinaw to face the Chiefs. Dee-Mack beat Heyworth in week five, 16-12, but fell to 2-4 on the year with a 46-6 loss to Fieldcrest in week six.
Palmer expects a similar game to the one against Heyworth.
“We are expecting a dogfight, and we will have to rally the troops again,” Palmer said.
With a win the Bunnies will become eligible for the playoffs.
To qualify for the IHSA playoffs you must have at least five wins and six gets you in automatically.
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or onTwitter @RyanBirchRP.