Former Oak Creek coach Joe Koch's return to his old stomping grounds was certainly a memorable one.
Kyle Veloz's 38-yard touchdown pass to Joey Gribble with 26 seconds remaining erased the memories of a muffed punt minutes earlier and gave Oak Creek (2-0) a 12-7 win over visiting Pius XI (0-2) on Friday.
On first-and-25, Veloz threw a perfect strike to Gribble, who had beaten two defenders deep and caught the ball in stride in the end zone.
Pius took a 7-6 lead with 2:01 left on Tyler Brusky's 4-yard TD run and Patrick Kessenich's point after attempt. The Popes punted the ball just over two minutes earlier when a nine-play drive stalled out, but an Oak Creek player muffed the return and Pius took over on the Knights' 17 with a fresh set of downs.
Brusky's TD looked like the game-winner until Veloz's heroics. He completed three passes on the game-winning 61-yard drive that was aided by a 15-yard personal foul on Pius on the preceding kickoff.
Veloz and Gribble hooked up with 3:36 left in the first half on a 17-yard TD strike that gave Oak Creek a 6-0 lead.
Veloz finished with 102 yards and one interception on six-of-nine passing. Gribble hauled in five of those completions for 102 yards.
Koch coached Oak Creek for 14 years from 1992 to 2005. His final season was the Knights' last in the WIAA playoffs.
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