Alba, Franklin knock Badger out again
FRANKLIN--Lake Geneva Badger has seen enough of Max Alba.
The Franklin quarterback put on another show with his right arm Friday night at Badger's expense.
Alba fired three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 5:35 to play, to lift the host Sabers to a 24-17 victory in a WIAA Division 1 second-round game.
Franklin, seeded second, improved to 10-1 overall and hosts fourth-seeded Muskego--which knocked off top-seeded Racine Horlick--in a state quarterfinal game next Friday. The Southern Lakes Conference-champion Badgers saw their season end with a 9-2 overall mark.
As the catalyst behind Franklin's postseason wins over Badger the last two years, Alba stood tall. The 6-foot-5 senior had seven touchdowns and threw for over 500 yards in the two wins over Badger, with last year's coming in a state semifinal matchup.
Badger coach Matt Hensler said his team's first-half struggles proved costly.
“You've got one of the best team's in the state, and you can't just not play for an entire half,” Hensler said. “We didn't play hard. We did nothing the first half.
“One of the best teams in the state, and we just gave them a half. We've been here so many times that there's no reason to be nervous, but we were. And that's on me as the head coach for not recognizing that.”
Trailing 16-3 at half, Badger stormed back in the third quarter and looked like the team that had played in back-to-back state semifinal games.
Wes Sontag cut the deficit to six with seven minutes left in the third on a 3-yard touchdown run. Then, following a Franklin fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Braden O'Laughlin scampered in from 10 yards out to make it 17-16 Badger.
Alba, however, worked his magic midway through the fourth to seal Badger's fate. He hooked up on a 44-yard strike to tailback Brad Tobin to take the ball down to the 6-yard line and then hit Mitchell Hansing from four yards out for what proved to be the game-winning score.
Badger had one last possession to try and tie the game, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete at the Franklin 25.
Hensler was proud of how his team responded after half.
“We didn't make any adjustments at half,” Hensler said. “All we said to the kids was, 'Hey, why don't we play hard?' And they did. It would've been fun to watch that for a whole game, I'll tell you that.”
Alba was locked in early on. He led the Sabers to scoring drives on their first two possessions.
The University of North Carolina baseball recruit hit Nolan Jessup for a 21-yard scoring play on the first possession of the game and then found a wide-open Elliot Harris in the back of the end zone to push the lead to 13-0 with eight seconds left in the first quarter.
Badger, which only had 60 yards of offense in the first half, got its only points of the first half on Josh Taddeo's 24-yard field goal with 6:30 left in the half.
FRANKLIN 24, BADGER 17
Lake Geneva Badger 0 3 14 0--17
Franklin 13 3 0 8--24
Scoring: F—Nolan Jessup 21 pass from Max Alba (kick failed). F—Elliot Harris 10 pass from Alba (Jack Takerian kick). B—Josh Taddeo 24 field goal. F—Takerian 32 field goal. B—Wes Sontag 3 run (Taddeo kick). B—Braden O'Laughlin 10 run (Taddeo kick). F—Mitchell Hansing 4 pass from Alba (Jake Stauber pass from Alba).
Statistics: First downs—B 14, F 16. Rushes—B 54-250, F 27-57.. Yards passing—B 12, F-220. Passes—B 3-1-0, F 22-14-1. Fumbles—B 1-0 F 1-1. Penalties—B 8-40 F 4-25.