Football Cardinals run over Sun Prairie

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Gregg Hammill/For the Times-Tribune
Kallion Buckner had a huge night in Middleton’s 35-19 win over Sun Prairie last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Flashbacks of last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss were fresh on Kallion Buckner’s mind.

Middleton’s standout running back just had a touchdown called back last Friday night, and the momentum had swung back in host Sun Prairie’s favor.

“I came into this game and I was thinking about last year,” Buckner said. “We lost (42-36) and that was on my mind the whole time. I was thinking when they called that touchdown back, that brought me back.”

But, instead of his team going on to lose, a long touchdown run by Buckner on the Cardinals’ next possession helped lead Middleton to a convincing 35-19 victory over host Sun Prairie in a Big Eight Conference game last Friday night.

“We stayed tough, we executed everything, and came out with a ‘W’,” Buckner said.

The Cardinals were clinging to a 14-13 lead in the third quarter when Buckner ran for an apparent 43-yard touchdown only to have the play called back on a holding penalty. Middleton was forced to punt two plays later and Sun Prairie drove down to the Middleton two-yard line.

On a first-and-goal play, Sun Prairie quarter back Brady Stevens was hit by Middleton’s Jake Pavelski and fumbled. Middleton’s Brian Frusciante recovered it at the 6-yard line and, two plays later, Buckner broke a couple tackles, got the corner and sailed past everyone down the sideline for a 91-yard touchdown.

“That’s like my main focus,” Buckner said. “Once I get outside, it’s just a footrace every time.”

Said Middleton coach Jason Pertzborn of Buckner: “There are fast guys on the field, but you just see he’s a little bit faster.”

Buckner, who also had an 80-yard scoring run, finished with 247 yards on 28 carries against a normally stingy Sun Prairie run defense.

“He just does that stuff,” Pertzborn said. “For him to have a big night against this defense was huge. He’s already doing great things this year, but the night he had against this defense took him to another level of respect.”

Pertzborn said his offensive linemen actually called for the play that sprung Buckner.

“They said run that play and so we ran that play,” Pertzborn said. “It’s always good when they can make themselves look good because they don’t like it when I go, ‘I thought you guys said run that play.’ It was really special when they say, ‘Let us do this’ and I say, ‘Okay it’s yours, do it,’ and they did it.”

Middleton won its fourth straight game and improved to 6-2 overall and in the Big Eight while remaining in a second-place tie with Madison La Follette and Verona. Sun Prairie dropped to fifth place in the league at 5-3.

After losing early season games to Verona and Madison Memorial, Middleton routed its next three opponents – Beloit Memorial, Janesville Parker and Craig – which occupy the bottom of the Big Eight Conference standings. Sun Prairie, which had only dropped close games to Madison Memorial and Madison La Follette, figured to be Middleton’s first true test since those early losses.

“I think a lot of people wrote us off after the Verona and Memorial games,” said right guard/defensive lineman Billy Johnson. “I mean we’ve just been working hard, trying to get back at it and I think this win definitely shows that. We’re making a run for the playoffs for sure.”

After Buckner’s long TD run, Sun Prairie responded with a six-play, 62-yard scoring drive. Stevens tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Dominick Landphier who made a leaping catch in the end zone. Stevens’ two-point conversion pass was incomplete and Middleton’s lead was trimmed to 21-19 with nine minutes, 57 seconds to play.

Middleton answered with a seven-play, 78-yard scoring drive. Keewon Buford capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run. Buford and Buckner combined to rush for 63 yards on the drive which was aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty. Sawyer Pertzborn’s kick made it 28-19 with 7:33 remaining.

Buford added a 20-yard touchdown to cap the scoring and sealed the victory with 54 seconds remaining.

Middleton started the game strong on defense. Middleton limited Sun Prairie to minus-19 yards on its first drive, which included a sack of Stevens by Pavelski.

Middleton took over at its own 44 after Owen Konopacki’s 26-yard punt and marched 56 yards in five plays. On first-and-goal at the 10, Middleton quarterback Drew Teff surged through the defense then fumbled as he crossed the goal line. Johnson alertly fell on the ball for the touchdown.

“I thought he was down, but you never know on a play like that so I just jumped on it,” Johnson said. “First touchdown and didn’t really know what to do so it was crazy. It was awesome.”

Sun Prairie executed a flea-flicker play to get its first score in the second quarter. On a first-and-10 play from the Middleton 43, Stevens handed off to Nathan Schauer, who handed off to Colin Schaefer coming around on a reverse. Schaefer then pitched back to Stevens who passed to a wide-open Peyton Jenkins for a touchdown. Schaefer’s conversion pass was incomplete, making the score 7-6.

Sun Prairie needed just 10 seconds to score again. Sun Prairie’s Dom Backes recovered a fumble by Buckner at the Middleton 13-yard line and Stevens connected with Schaefer for a touchdown on the next play. Konopacki’s extra-point gave Sun Prairie a 13-7 lead with 9:39 remaining in the second quarter.

Both teams traded fumble recoveries as the defenses dominated the rest of the half.

Pertzborn tried to stay positive despite the halftime deficit and some miscues on offense.

“We were doing what we do when we come over here, which is usually make mistakes and shoot ourselves in the foot,” Pertzborn said. “I just kept telling our guys just don’t get upset because that’s what we’ve done in the past including myself. I made a conscious effort this year to not do that and stay positive so that’s what we tried to do. Both of the defenses were playing well in the first half and so ours kept us in the game until we got it rolling and that was my goal.”

Middleton got it rolling on the first offensive play of the second half as Buckner shot straight through a hole in the middle of the line and sprinted 80 yards untouched for a touchdown. Pertzborn’s kick made it 14-13.

“That’s like one of our main plays,” Buckner said. “That’s the sign for me to cut back and be able to get up the field. When my O-line opened that up, I took it and just got going.”

Said Pertzborn: “That’s what (Buckner) does and that’s what I kept telling our guys to trust that it would happen at some point. I didn’t know it was going to happen that soon so I’ll take it, but that’s what we had been waiting for.”

After fumbling a couple times in the first half, Buckner made an adjustment to start the second half.

“The first half I came in with two long sleeves on,” Buckner said. “The second half I came out with them off. The first half it was like the ball was just slipping off of there every time, it felt like they were just taking it off of me. And the second half, I was able to carry it, hold that ball.”

Middleton churned out 330 yards rushing on 43 carries behind a line that includes Zac Mayhew (260 pounds), Taylor Simmons (220), Clay Craker (313), Johnson (276) and Luke McChrystal (263).

Pertzborn also has a jumbo package option where he’ll bring in an extra tight end in 231-pound Jake Wuebben or he’ll move Simmons to fullback and insert 6-foot-7, 360-pound sophomore Max Lampe on the line.

“They like to try and confuse you with all of their blitzing and fake blitzing and knifing and this and that but, when you’ve got those big bodies, it’s a little harder when they stay square,” Pertzborn said. “We tell our guys, stay square, stay tight and go forward.”

Middleton rushed for 300 yards on 23 carries in the second half when the Cardinals outscored Sun Prairie, 28-6.

“We came out and we really didn’t have a great first half on offense,” Johnson said. “The scoreboard shows that we just kind of exploded (in the second half). We used our will and our big O-line to finally open some holes.”

Added Pertzborn: “Eventually you just like them work. Those guys worked the body and those are some big boys and four quarters of having to go against them can’t be too exciting.”

Defensively, Middleton amassed 16 tackles for loss, including seven sacks. The Cardinals also forced two turnovers.

“This defense has been getting better and better since Verona,” Pertzborn said. “I said it’s a process. We had a new D coordinator, brand new defense and there was a huge learning curve. Unfortunately, it cost us a couple games, but we’ve learned and we just keep getting better. That’s the message. Stick with the process, trust, trust in what we do and believe that it’s going to get better. It’s getting better.”

 

Oct. 11

Middleton 35, Sun Prairie 19

Sun Prairie …………. 0  13  0   6 – 19

Middleton ………….. 7    0   7  21 – 35

– Billy Johnson fumble recovery in end zone (Sawyer Pertzborn kick)

SP – Peyton Jenkins 43 pass from Brady Stevens (pass failed)

SP – Colin Schaefer 12 pass from Stevens (Owen Konopacki kick)

M – Kallion Buckner 80 run (Pertzborn kick)

M – Buckner 91 run (Pertzborn kick)

SP – Dominick Landphier 26 pass from Stevens (pass failed)

M – Keewon Buford 9 run (Pertzborn kick)

M – Buford 20 run (Pertzborn kick)

 

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs – M 14, SP 15. Rushing (Att-Yds) – M 43-330, SP 24-18. Passing yards – M 5, SP 196. Passing (Att.-Comp.-Int.) – M 3-1-0, SP 27-18-1. Total plays-yards – M – 49-330, SP – 61-214. Fumbles-lost – M 4-2, SP 31-1. Penalties-yards – M 9-79, SP 9-97.

 

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: M – Buckner 28-247, Buford 5-62. SP – Nathan Schauer 10-26. Passing: M – Drew Teff 3-1-0-5; SP – Stevens 27-18-1-196. Receiving: M – Buckner 1-5. SP – Schaefer 7-83.

 

 

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