Football Cards crush Craig

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MTT News's picture
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka loved how his unit played against Janesville Craig./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Cope. Prepare. Dominate.

Those three words best describe Middleton's most recent football game against Janesville Craig, and maybe even its season, as the Cardinals have had their share of adversity and lopsided victories.

Injuries have plagued Middleton early in the season, as it’s dealt with the loss of two starting offensive lineman and their most experienced wideout and tight end.

And just this past week, team captain Shane Bick’s father passed away suddenly, leaving the team with heavy hearts and a mental hurdle as they prepared to play Janesville Craig.

But just as they've done for much of the season, Bick and the Cardinals responded, pounding the Cougars, 42-7, in a Big Eight Conference match-up played at Brietenbach Stadium in Middleton last Friday.

Bick starts at linebacker for the Cardinals and has played some tight end this season due to injuries. He is the team's leading tackler with 34 stops and has two receptions for seven yards and a touchdown. He had one reception for three yards and recorded seven tackles in likely the most challenging game of his life.

“I'm most proud tonight of how Shane, as well as our team, handled the toughest thing one can handle — that's the death of someone in your family,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “Our guys responded not by just playing football on the field, but responded by being there for Shane and his family."

Bick and the Cardinals handled Craig for much of the game, putting up dominating performances in all phases of the game.

One stellar performance came from Middleton’s offensive line, a group that has been maturing week after week. This quintet helped pave the way for 117 rushing yards on 23 attempts (5.1) and protected quarterback Davis Roquet, allowing him to complete 15 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns.

Roquet was thrilled with his linemates' performance.

“We have a little less experience on our line this year, so getting them a couple more games under their belt is a big deal,” Roquet said. “The passing game and running game revolves around them. They brought it tonight. They've been working hard in practice and they've earned it. It's really showing on the field right now.”

Simon has noticed an improvement in his line recently, a unit that has been a big reason the offense has been able to average 39.0 points over their last two games.

“They've made strides every week,” said Simon of his line. “We're getting less growing pains now and more confidence in what we're doing.”

Middleton's defense also came up huge, forcing three turnovers and recording five sacks. The Cardinals held the Cougars to 199 yards of total offense (168 rushing, 31 passing).

Simon was impressed with the way his defense prepared for Craig's option offense.

“(Craig's) offense is really tough to duplicate in practice ... the challenge we had was giving (our defense) all the looks (Craig has),” Simon said. “Our defensive deserves credit, but our scout offense does too.”

After a scoreless first quarter by both teams, Middleton got things rolling in the second quarter.

Middleton used an eight-play, 63-yard drive to get on the board first as running back Dion Huff plunged in from the one-yard line, and after a Joey Culp extra point, led 7-0.

Middleton forced Craig to punt on the following possession, leading to a 50-yard punt return by Sam Close to the Cougars’ 19-yard line. It was one of three drives the Cardinals started inside Craig’s 35-yard line.

“Those gave us a spark when we needed one,” Simon said of his kickoff and punt return units.

Middleton capped off the drive as Roquet connected with Bryce Carey for a 15-yard touchdown to grab a 14-0 lead with 6:46 left in the second quarter.

Craig fumbled the ensuing kickoff, again setting up Middleton with good field position. Rouqet wasn’t complaining about working with a short field on many of the drives.

“With the special teams having a couple good returns and defense having a fumble recovery, that sets us up with momentum and field position which makes our life so much easier,” Roquet said.

Middleton capitalized on the turnover as Huff scored his second touchdown of the night from seven yards out to give the Cardinals a 21-0 lead with 3:54 remaining in the second quarter.

Middleton scored on its next drive, as well, a seven-play march highlighted by a 29-yard screen pass to James Pabst, that that the senior running back took to the 5-yard line. Pabst scored two plays later on Roquet's second passing touchdown of the night to give the Cardinals a 28-0 halftime lead.

Middleton had 156 total yards and seven first downs in the second quarter, compared to one yard of offense and no first downs for Craig.

Middleton received the second half kickoff, and on the first play from scrimmage, Pabst burst up the middle and ripped off a 66-yard touchdown run. Culp made it 35-0 with 11:44 to go in the third, which started a running clock.

Craig got on the board the following drive, traveling 77 yards over 10 plays. J.J. Brennan rumbled in from two yards out and a successful extra point made it 35-7 with 5:40 left in the third.

But Middleton answered, using nine plays to go 35 yards and eating 4:29 off the clock. Roquet tossed his third touchdown of the game to Luke Ballweg, and Culp made it 42-7.

Middleton improved to 3-1 on the season, and Craig fell to 1-3. Middleton travels to Verona Friday at 7 p.m. in a game featuring two of the four teams currently tied for second place in the conference.

Verona edged Middleton, 10-7, last season in a game that was dominated in the stat categories by the Cardinals. Middleton will be searching for a better result this year.

“Big revenge game,” Roquet said.

Simon agreed.

“Should be a great game and a great atmosphere next week,” said Simon.

If there is one thing Shane Bick and Middleton can take away from and leading up to their game against Craig, it's that there is an abundance of support and resiliency amongst teammates and staff when facing some of the toughest adversity they will encounter all season.

“It was a very emotional week. Shane came to practice every day ... he wanted to come and be with his (football) family,” Simon said. “From 7 o'clock to about 9:30 Friday night, all we get to do is play football.

“So, to do justice for people going through tough times, let's be the best versions of ourselves and play the best game that we can play. We did just that tonight.”


Sept. 8

Middleton 42, Janesville Craig 7

Craig ……………..   0   0   7   0 — 7

Middleton ………..   0 28  14   0 — 42

Second Quarter

M — Huff, 1, run (Culp kick), 10:04

M — Carey, 15, pass from Roquet (Culp kick), 6:46

M — Huff, 7, run (Culp kick), 3:54

M — Pabst, 5, pass from Roquet (Culp kick) 0:24


Third Quarter

M — Pabst, 66, run (Culp kick), 11:44

JC- Brennan, 2, run (Feirn kick), 5:40

M — Ballweg, 10, pass from Rouqet (Culp kick), 1:11


Team Stats

Total yards — M 330, JC 199. Rushing (att-yd) — M 23-117, JC 32-168. Passing (comp-att-yd-int-td) — M 16-26-221-1-3, JC  4-11-31-2-0. Penalties — M 7-52, JC 8-71. First Downs — M 12, JC  9. Time of possession — M 21:32, JC 26:28.

Individual Leaders   

Rushing (att-yd-td) — M Pabst 9-98-1, Huff 8-34-2; JC Coulter  15-85-0.

Passing (comp-att-yd-int-td) — M Roquet 15-23-213-0-3; JC  Coulter 4-11-31-2-0.

Receiving (rec-yd-td) M Carey 4-76-1, Huff 3-42-0, Pabst 3-32-1, Ballweg 3-52-1, Bick 1-3-0. JC — Malmanger 2-19-0.




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