Franklin too much for Craig in D1 opener
FRANKLIN--Franklin High entered the WIAA Division 1 football playoffs as a No. 2 seed and yet also as a top contender to reach the state championship game.
For Janesville Craig to pull a monumental upset in the first round likely would have required a perfect game.
A momentum-killing snap over the quarterback Ben Coulter’s head, an injury to Coulter in the second quarter and an opposing player catching two touchdown passes just 18 seconds apart derailed any such plan Friday night.
The Sabers looked the part of title contender, scoring four second-quarter touchdowns in a 45-7 home victory.
Franklin will host Lake Geneva Badger in the second round next week. The Cougars finished with a 4-6 record.
“I did think we could play with them if we played a perfect game, but we didn’t have a perfect game tonight,” Craig first-year coach Adam Bunderson said. “At the same time, I’m proud of our kids and their accomplishments.”
Craig, in the playoffs for just the second time since 2008, grabbed some momentum twice in the first quarter but quite simply couldn’t sustain it.
The Cougars forced a fumble on Franklin’s opening drive, but they fumbled the ball back on their second play from scrimmage. The Sabers recovered in the end zone to take the lead.
Later, Craig’s Talique Clayton skied for a 25-yard touchdown on fourth and long, cutting Franklin’s lead to 14-7 late in the first quarter.
The Cougars forced a punt and got a first down on their ensuing possession, but a snap over Coulter’s head stifled the rally.
“Any number of plays tonight go a different way and maybe momentum changes,” Bunderson said. “But yeah, at that point, 14-7, getting a first down, I thought maybe things would start rolling.”
Instead, it was all Franklin from there on out.
Quarterback Max Alba ran in a touchdown to make it 21-7 midway through the quarter, and he later hit receiver Mitchell Hansing for touchdown passes of 11 and 17 yards with 25 and 7 seconds left in the half, respectively.
Up 42-7 at the break, the second half was played with a running clock.
Craig senior Sam Kelly caught five passes for 103 yards and also forced a fumble on defense in the loss for Craig.
The Cougars threw for 208 yards, with senior Luke Malmanger catching six passes for 62 yards.
“I’m happy these seniors got to the playoffs, because that was a goal they set,” Bunderson said. “Franklin is a really, really good team. I hope our guys see what it takes now and next season take the next step. It was a fun year.”
FRANKLIN 45, CRAIG 7
Craig7 0 0 0—7
Franklin 14 28 3 0—45
Scoring: F—Jacob Baumgardt, fumble recovery in end zone (Jack Takerian kick). F—Brett Colvin, 25 run (Takerian kick). JC—Talique Clayton, 25 pass from Ben Coulter (Michael Feirn kick). F—Max Alba, 12 run (Takerian kick). F—Brad Tobin, 24 run (Takerian kick). F—Mitchell Hansing, 11 pass from Alba (Takerian kick). F—Hansing, 17 pass from Alba (Takerian kick). F—FG, Takerian, 25.
Statistics: First downs—C 12, F 14. Rushing—C 30-(-12), F 21-113. Passing yards—C 208, F 160. Passes—C 26-14-3, F 22-12-0. Fumbles—C 3-2, F 2-2. Penalties—C 4-25, F 2-20.