Middleton rolls past Memorial

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton senior quarterback Kellan Schulz threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Cardinals toppled Madison Memorial Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MADISON — Friday couldn't arrive soon enough.

That’s how each and every member of Middleton’s football team felt this week.

The Cardinals were coming off their first loss of the season, a humbling setback in Sun Prairie on Sept. 19. And Middleton couldn’t wait to make amends.

“We had such enthusiasm from Monday on,” Cardinals quarterback Kellan Schulz said. “Everyone couldn’t wait to get back out there and get things turned around.”

Middleton did exactly that. And Madison Memorial paid the price.

The Cardinals rebounded in a big way, rolling past the host Spartans, 30-8, at Mansfield Stadium.

Middleton improved to 5-1 and now sits in a three-way tie atop the conference with Madison La Follette and Janesville Craig. Memorial fell to 2-4 and had its Homecoming game spoiled.

Middleton also clinched a playoff spot for the 19th straight season, which is currently the longest such streak in Division 1. Hartland Arrowhead (3-3) can also qualify for a 19th straight season with a strong finish.

“This was huge,” said senior linebacker Brian Chapman. “We needed to get our confidence back after Sun Prairie. It was definitely gut check time.”

And Middleton certainly delivered.

Schulz was brilliant, throwing for two touchdowns and 178 yards in the first half alone, as Middleton raced to a 20-0 lead at the break.

Junior running back Cam Maly had 113 of his 167 rushing yards in the second half when the Cardinals controlled the ball and the clock.

And Middleton’s sensational defense held Memorial’s high-powered offense scoreless until the final 2 minutes, when the Cardinals had pulled all of their starters.

Middleton also forced four turnovers, as Nick Maes, Alex Wood and Max Boehnen all intercepted passes and Peyton Brunker recovered a fumble.

“I thought we had a really good week of practice, especially Wednesday and Thursday,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “We were sharp and ready to go.

“I thought the coaching staff and the players really responded well, especially after we got on the practice field Monday. It was a really good effort by our guys after a tough loss.”

It didn’t take Middleton long to show that this week would be different.

Senior tight end Mitchell Herl made two eye-popping catches in the first nine minutes, including a stunning one-handed grab worthy of a spot in SportsCenter’s Top Plays.

Chapman came on a delayed blitz on Memorial’s first possession and buried Spartans quarterback Emmett Enright for a 6-yard loss. And later, Middleton safety Joe Ludwig drilled Enright near the sideline, and sent the Memorial quarterback flying into a nearby kicking net.

“I thought our kids were ready to go right away,” Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka said. “I liked our intensity and focus throughout the game.”

The Cardinals were focused from the opening snap.

Middleton drove 89 yards in 11 plays on its opening drive and took a 7-0 lead when Schulz hit Travis Zander for a 27-yard touchdown.

Zander ran a simple drag route, and when Middleton’s offensive line held up its end of the bargain, Schulz had plenty of time to deliver the scoring strike.

Herl caught two passes for 40 yards on the drive and Schulz completed 5-of-6 passes for 70 yards.

“That’s what our offense is capable of when we get time and the receivers are running good routes,” Schulz said. “The first drive really wasn’t as hard as you’d think it was. It was just tossing the ball around.”

The Cardinals made it 10-0 when Declan Whinnery drilled a 33-yard field goal with 1:54 left in the first quarter. The highlight of the drive came when Herl made a brilliant one-handed catch for 28 yards on a third-and-11.

“Unbelievable catch,” Simon said. “And he did it on third and long to keep a drive alive. That was really big.”

Middleton strung together a 14-play, 82-yard drive that ate up 6 ½ minutes of the second quarter. Whinnery capped the march with a 29-yard field goal that gave the Cardinals a 13-0 lead.

On Memorial’s next possession, Ryan Murphy fumbled and Brunker recovered on the Spartans’ 29-yard line. On the next play, Schulz threw a jump ball to the right corner of the endzone that Mitchell Bacon took away from a Memorial cornerback for a 29-yard TD and a 20-0 Cardinals’ lead with 3:21 left in the second quarter.

“I came in the huddle and I said, ‘One play. We’re one and done right now,’ ” Schulz said. “I know Mitch Bacon can really jump and he did it there.”

Middleton drove 75 yards on its first possession of the second half, and Schulz capped the march with a 2-yard TD run to make it 27-0. Maly carried four times for 49 yards on the drive, highlighted by a 34-yard burst.

Whinnery later gave the Cardinals a 30-0 lead with a 23-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.

Memorial, meanwhile, strung together a handful of solid drives. But every time Middleton needed a stop, it got one.

“I think a key is we were able to get them in some down and distance situations that we liked,” Cabalka said. “That was really a key for us.”

Added Chapman: “It was all about bouncing back this week. We wanted to take away their weapons and their athletes and I think we did a good job of that.”

Middleton also did a much better job of keeping Schulz clean, which allowed the offense to function at a much-higher level.

Middleton reshuffled its offensive line after that unit was thoroughly outplayed in Sun Prairie. On Friday, the Cardinals unit featured (from left) Kajuan Redus, Austin Collins, William Braxton, Sean Benedict and Derek Ramsey.

Middleton’s plan was to put its beef to the middle, where the interior linemen averaged 265 pounds per man. The Cardinals then moved their quicker, more athletic linemen to tackle.

The plan worked like a charm, as Schulz wasn’t sacked after being dropped eight times in Sun Prairie.

“We put them in a better position where we think they can succeed,” Simon said of his offensive line. “I’m glad it worked out for us.”

Things worked out swimmingly for the Cardinals in every facet. And now Middleton believes its back on track entering the homestretch of its season.

“We played well and the kids responded,” said Simon, whose team next faces Madison West Thursday at Mansfield at 7 p.m. “We’re very happy with how we played, but we all know that Madison West is very good. So we’re turning the page quickly.”

 

Sept. 26

Middleton 30, Madison Memorial 8

Middleton ………………….…………. 10 10 7 3 — 30

Madison Memorial ……….……….…. 0  0  0  8 — 8

Middleton — Zander, 27, pass from Schulz (Whinnery kick)

Middleton — FG, Whinnery, 33

Middleton — FG, Whinnery, 29

Middleton — Bacon, 29, pass from Schulz (Whinnery kick)

Middleton — Schulz, 2, run (Whinnery kick)

Middleton — FG, Whinnery, 23

Madison Memorial — Weah, 1, run (Weah run)

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs — Mi 20, MM 17. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — Mi 34-196, MM 32-141. Passing yards — Mi 189, MM 164. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — Mi 12-20-1, MM 11-26-3. Fumbles-lost — Mi 1-0, MM 4-1. Penalties-yards — Mi 11-110, MM 9-85.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: Mi — Maly 26-167; MM — Weah 14-72.

Passing: Mi — Schulz 12-19-1, 189; MM — Enright 11-26-3, 164.

Receiving: Mi — Herl 3-73; MM — Houden 5-84.

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