Football Cardinals cruise past West

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MTT News's picture
Bill Cooney/For the Times-Tribune
Kallion Buckner had 180 rushing yards and three touchdowns to power Middleton past Madison West on Sept. 6./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

After home games at Otto Breitenbach Stadium, most of Middleton’s football team heads down University Avenue to Middleton Sport Bowl to relax, chill, gobble down pizza and scroll through their social media feeds.

After giving up a program-record 61 points in a setback to rival Verona two weeks ago, senior defensive lineman Jake Wuebben and his friends were a little shell-shocked — as if a 61-35 drubbing wasn’t bad enough — when a tweet rolled through that they had just surrendered 734 yards in a program record for futility.

“I was sick in the stomach until Monday when we got back onto the field,” Wuebben said. “After that we just needed to get better and we did. We worked hard in practice and got a lot better.”

The Cardinals did get better — and we’re assuming the pizza tasted better, too — after they defeated visiting Madison West 23-12 in a Big Eight Conference game last Friday.

One week after what Wuebben called an “embarrassing” loss, the Cardinals allowed just 247 total yards, including 79 yards rushing on 31 carries. They intercepted West quarterback Ezra Thomson twice, forced a safety and blocked a punt that set up the game’s first touchdown.

Senior tailback Kallion Buckner ran for 180 yards and three scores, the final one from 5 yards out to give Middleton a comfortable 21-6 lead late in the third quarter.

The Cardinals improved to 2-1 overall and in the Big Eight Conference. The Regents fell to 1-2 overall and in the league.

“I told them all at the beginning of the week that everybody’s job is on the line,” Middleton coach Jason Pertzborn said. “They better have a good week of practice and step up or we’ll make changes and if we have to look to sophomores to make plays we will. Because that’s kind of how we played (against Verona) — we didn’t play to a varsity level last week, we sat back and watched and watched and watched.”

As soon as the questions turned to West, Pertzborn’s tone changed for the better. He was pleased with the defensive effort, especially how his team stymied West’s outside trap running plays — the same ones that destroyed his unit against Verona. On offense, Pertzborn credited the entire unit’s blocking, which helped open holes for Buckner.

“It looked like a totally different team,” Pertzborn said. “Confidence-wise. Speed-wise. Physically.”

Middleton received a bolt of motivational energy on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage, when senior Marquez Winters stormed through the line untouched to block a punt that set up the Cardinals inside the 5-yard line. Buckner punched it in on the next play to give Middleton an early 7-0 lead.

“Just out of the gates, I just wanted us to go and fight,” said Winters, frustrated that he missed the Verona game due to personal reasons. “I think that block gave a lot of energy to everybody and just got all the guys pumped up to finish the game.”

West (1-2, 1-1) answered right back, using an option attack to travel 80 yards in seven plays, all on the ground, to pull within 7-6.

In the second quarter, Middleton junior Nolan Dunn picked off a tipped pass — senior Quinn Calvin hit Thomson’s arm as he was throwing — to end a promising drive by the Regents. That led to a 14-play, 77-yard touchdown drive by Middleton, capped by a 9-yard, fourth-down run by Buckner, to give the Cardinals a 14-6 lead.

On the touchdown run, Middleton employed a full-house backfield, inserting 360-pound sophomore Max Lampe at guard while moving guard Taylor Simmons to a second fullback spot alongside starter Benjamin Litchfield. It’s the same formation that gave Middleton a 21-6 lead on Buckner’s third-quarter TD run.

“We’ve got a lot of big kids so we put all that beef on the field and we like to try and wear people down,” Pertzborn said. “I think it did that. You saw in the second half, they had their hands on their knees a lot and a couple of guys had to come out of the game. It did its job. We’re not trying to fool anybody there. It’s just downhill and pound. They’re excited about that. They love it.”

West coach Brad Murphy was proud of how hard his team fought against the Cardinals, especially after allowing the early blocked punt. West had 27 upperclassmen go out for varsity football, a shocking statistic for a school with an enrollment of 2,400.

“We can’t have that kind of stuff because our margin of error is pretty slim,” Murphy said of the blocked punt. “But that’s what I love about our kids. They’re not using that as an excuse.”

Middleton now travels to Madison Memorial (3-0, 3-0) Friday at 7 p.m. to face a Spartans team Pertzborn expects to be on par with Verona. The defense, which switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this season and is still experiencing some growing pains, will play a big factor in whether Middleton can contend for the Big Eight title.

“We’re fighters, we know that,” Wuebben said. “It’s only going to get better. The first two games we were learning, but now we’re getting up there and for sure getting better.”


Sept. 6

Madison West ………. 6  0  0  6  — 12
Middleton ……………. 7  7  7  2  — 23

First quarter
M — Buckner 3 run (Pertzborn kick), 9:38
MW — Thomson 1 run (kick missed), 5:58.
Second quarter
M — Buckner 9 run (Pertzborn kick), 3:21
Third quarter
M — Buckner 5 run (Pertzborn kick), 3:40
Fourth quarter
MW — Jones 67 pass from Thomson (run failed), 2:59
M — Safety, (Engelein, Wuebben tackled Thomson in end zone), :41.


First downs — MW 10, M 18. Rushes-yards — MW 31-79, M 45-225. Comp-Att-Int — MW 6-16-2, M 8-16-0. Passing yards — MW 168, M 84. Fumbles-Lost — MW 1-0, MID 2-1. Penalties-Yards — MW 5-48, M 3-31.


RUSHING: MW, Jones 7-52. M, Buckner 29-180. PASSING: MW, Thomson 6-16-168-2. M, Teff 8-16-84-0. RECEIVING: MW, Sanford 3-80. M, Patterson, 2-32.



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