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Jackson Kollath reels in a 58-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left to help the Chargers land a thrilling 28-24 win over Cedarburg on Aug. 26. Video courtesy of Hamilton football.

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Football games are often decided by a few big plays. When Sussex Hamilton traveled to Cedarburg to take on the Bulldogs, the big plays came in bunches.

Ultimately, the Chargers prevailed, 28-24, with on an electrifying 58-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Smith to Jackson Kollrath with 14 seconds left in the game. 

“It was a great game obviously. A thriller,” Chargers head coach John Damato said.  “You know, it’s a great lesson on the football field to never give up.  And it’s a great lesson in life. You put forth full effort, and you have a never quit attitude, and they showed that tonight.”

Hamilton would not have needed the late score if not for a furious comeback by the Bulldogs aided by three second-half Chargers turnovers. The most costly of them was a fumbled snap deep in their own territory that led to a Bulldogs 8-yard scoring connection from Jack Meyer to Mitchell Stroebell.  After a missed extra point, Cedarburg led, 24-21 with only 35 seconds remaining on the clock.

“It was play we had designed to get the ball out there quicker,” Cedarburg head coach Brian Leair said. “But Mitchell did a great job laying out and pulling in the ball. He is an athletic kid. He is a gamer.

“I was proud of them for hanging in the game,” Leair said. “There was a point when the stands started emptying a little bit and it didn’t look really good for us. Then, we hung in there and made the plays we needed to make.”

Kollrath also provided two more touchdowns for Hamilton in the second half on a pair of runs that went 56 and 49 yards. The second score made it 21-10, Chargers, and put them in control of the game with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.

“I give major props to my lineman and our defense,” Kollrath said  “The defense had the turnovers and those two three and outs, and they kept plowing through.”

On his two long runs Kollrath showed his prowess as he burst through holes and then outraced the Bulldogs defense to the end zone.

“He showed he has great speed and some power too,” Damato said. “He is 195 pounds and a sophomore and is only going to get better. He had a great game, obviously, and a great reception at the end there.  I’m pretty excited for Jackson.”

The relatively quiet first half saw Cedarburg build a 10-7 lead that included a 41-yard Patrick Hoffman run and a 20-yard Taylor Kuck field goal.  Hamilton had opened the scoring with a 29-yard burst by Nick Mirasola.

But ultimately, the big-play Chargers prevailed and left Cedarburg with mixed feelings on what could have been.

“We will look at the positives,” Leair said. "They are resilient, they kept working, worked together as a team. We will build on that and take a look at some of the mistakes we made.”

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