Upon Further Review: Latest Badger comeback leads to state semis
There's a lot to be said for resiliency when it comes to any postseason.
And when it comes to this year's WIAA football playoffs, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that has shown more of it than Lake Geneva Badger.
The Badgers came from behind to force overtime at Waunakee on Friday night, then won there on Tias Larson's 35-yard field goal to advance to a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal game next week against Waukesha West.
Badger is now 10-2 this season. It has come from behind to win half of those 10 games. In a sixth, the Badgers never trailed but broke a 7-7 tie on a touchdown with less than three minutes remaining.
Indeed, the Badgers are living up to the characteristics of their mascot, and their tenacity started well before the start of their current six-game winning streak.
Actually, it all began in a Week 2 loss to Kenosha Tremper. Badger trailed 16-6 before rallying to force overtime. It lost, 26-25, when a two-point try in the first extra session failed, but the stage was set for the team that just won't give in.
One week later, the Badgers trailed Burlington by a touchdown four separate times—at 7-0, 14-7, 21-14 and 27-21—before winning when Isaac Ziervogel ran in from 18 yards out and the extra point was good with less than six minutes remaining.
In Week 5, Badger trailed Delavan-Darien 6-0 and 9-7 before pulling away.
In Week 8, it was behind 31-21 early in the third quarter at Union Grove. Knowing a victory was needed for any chance at a Southern Lakes Championship, the Badgers rattled off three consecutive touchdowns and held on.
One week later, hosting unbeaten Waterford with a share of the crown on the line, Badger never trailed in a low-scoring affair. It was 7-7 until Christian Martinez plunged in from four yards out with 2:46 left. The Badgers won 14-7, and the head-to-head victory earned them the title of conference champion at the next day's seeding meeting. This was important because it secured a No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the first two rounds.
In a second-round game against Oregon, the Panthers took a 7-0 lead immediately, but the Badgers bounced back and rolled to a 42-14 victory.
That set up Friday night's showdown at Waunakee, ranked No. 1 in the last state coaches poll released Oct. 13. Once again the Badgers trailed every step of the way, at 7-0, 14-7 and 21-7. But Ziervogel's halfback pass to Chase Craig was right on the money with 50 seconds left, and Larson's PAT was true. When Larson booted his overtime field goal, the most recent comeback was complete.
Now it's on to Waukesha West with a state berth on the line. The teams will play at 7 p.m. Friday at Kenosha Indian Trail.
West's losses came to Division 1 Arrowhead and Division 3 Catholic Memorial, both of which will play in state semifinal games this week in their respective divisions. Waukesha West has shut out all three of its playoff opponents by a combined 167-0.
Badger will once again be the underdog.
But they've proven thus far you can't count them out until the clock strikes 0:00.
Hughes dazzles in college debut
We'll switch fully to basketball mode here in the coming weeks. The high school girls teams start practice this week, so it's right around the corner.
At the college level, things are already underway, and Janesville Craig grad Alison Hughes, The Gazette's reigning area player of the year, stood out in her first game for Minnesota-Crookston.
Hughes scored 18 points and added five assists in a 76-73 victory over Division I North Dakota State. The Eagles trailed by 15 at halftime.
Eric Schmoldt is the sports editor of The Gazette.