Mistakes of all kinds hurt the Grafton football team in a 30-21 loss to Milwaukee Lutheran on Sept. 23.
The Black Hawks committed four turnovers, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and were flagged for crucial penalties, with three holding calls ruining their final drive, which could have resulted in a victory.
Grafton slipped to 1-3 in the North Shore Conference and 1-5 overall.
The Hawks will next meet Port Washington (2-2, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at home. The Pirates are much improved this season and would clinch a WIAA playoff berth with two victories in their final three contests.
"They will be ready," Grafton coach Shaun Behrend said of the Pirates. "They are a much better team than last year. They are big and physical. We will have another challenge on our hands."
Making things more difficult is a rash of injuries to key players such as Vince Giorgi, Jack Senczyszyn and Jalen Turan.
"We are down to somewhat of a skeleton crew," Behrend said, "with about 20 to 25 players."
Grafton was trailing Lutheran, 23-21, in the final minutes but was trying to drive at least into field-goal range. That drive, though, was undone by three holding calls, which eventually left the Hawks in a fourth-down-and-20, which they did not convert.
Lutheran then scored a game-clinching touchdown on a 21-yard run by quarterback Josiah Hedrington.
"We were able to drive all night," Behrend said, "but could not finish."
Lutheran started the scoring with a 55-yard fumble return to the end zone, but Grafton came back with a 4-yard pass from quarterback Hayden Proefrock to Jack Birch, and the game was tied at 7-7 after one quarter.
Giorgi scored from 1 yard out to give Grafton the lead, but Lutheran tied the game at 14-14 and then kicked a field goal to take a 17-14 halftime advantage.
Birch rushed in from 4 yards out, and the extra point by Jack Orlowski made it 21-17 for the Hawks. Lutheran regained the lead at 23-21, setting up the final minutes.
Proefrock threw for 203 yards on 23-of-37 passing, with Orlowski catching seven passes for 95 yards and Evan Agnew and Brandon Koepp each hauling in five passes.
Birch led the rushing attack with 46 yards, and Giorgi finished with 39 before leaving the game with injury.
Robert Olmer collected 10 tackles, nine unassisted, and Birch had five tackles and one sack.