Janesville Craig can't hold early lead, falls 29-21
JANESVILLE—Twice the Janesville Craig Cougars seemed to have claimed all the momentum on Friday night.
Twice the Madison West Regents had an answer.
West turned a pair of Craig penalties into a pair of tide-shifting touchdowns as the Regents scored 20 straight points to win 29-21 in a Big Eight Conference game at Monterey Stadium.
“They're a very physical football team and do a lot of things to beat you,” Cougars coach Ben McCormick said. “It's a long season and we've got a lot to improve and get better, but if we play well and eliminate those mistakes, we can play with anyone in the conference.”
The Cougars (1-1) hung right with a West team (1-1) that nearly upset Big Eight favorite Sun Prairie one week earlier.
Early back-to-back touchdown drives gave the Cougars a 14-3 lead.
The first lasted just three plays before senior quarterback Tom Gabower found running back Trevon Hall streaking down the right hash. Hall split two defenders and scampered 65 yards for a score.
After forcing a punt, the Cougars put together a 10-play scoring drive that culminated in a 22-yard scoring run by Gabower on a read-option play.
Then, on West's ensuing drive, it appeared the Cougars would get the ball back via punt on fourth-and-seven. Instead, they were whistled for a substitution infraction, and the Regents converted a fake punt on fourth down. West quarterback Terrell McFadden found his rhythm and made the Cougars pay, capping the drive with a seven-yard run.
“Those are huge,” McCormick said of the penalty that essentially kept the drive alive. “That's a communication error on our part, so that has to be fixed. That was a huge score.”
Lightning in the area sent the teams to their locker rooms after the touchdown for a 45-minute delay with more than four minutes remaining in the first half.
When the teams emerged, Hall took charge again, taking a pitch to the left and streaking down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown.
“We went three plays and got a touchdown and thought we had some momentum there,” McCormick said. “Then they came back right before the half and put it in, got the kickoff at half and put it in again.”
The lightning delay essentially served as halftime, meaning West's back-to-back touchdowns came just minutes apart.
McFadden, who finished with 177 yards through the air and 26 on the ground, scored his second rushing touchdown of the game with 18 seconds left in the first half. On the drive to open the third quarter, he found Malik Clements for an impressive eight-yard touchdown catch that gave the Regents the lead.
The Regents added another touchdown later in the third to make it an eight-point game. Craig drove inside the 10-yard line in the final minutes of the game, but a pass went out of the reach of Ryan Kind on fourth-and-goal.
“There's plays all throughout that game that could've won it,” McCormick said. “The good news is we did give ourselves a chance to make a play at the end.”
Hall left the game with an injury that required emergency medical services in the second half. He finished with 134 all-purpose yards. Gabower threw for 118 and ran for 34 more.
Craig travels to play Verona at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
MADISON WEST 29, JANESVILLE CRAIG 21
Madison West 3 13 13 0—29
Janesville Craig 7 14 0 0—21
Scoring summary: MW—Peter Stabe, 31 field goal. JC—Trevon Hall, 65 pass from Tom Gabower (Joe Glowacki kick). JC—Gabower, 22 run (Glowacki kick). MW—Terrell McFadden, 7 run (run failed). JC—Hall, 68 run (Glowacki kick). MW—McFadden, 2 run (Stabe kick). MW—Malik Clements, 8 pass from McFadden (pass failed). MW—Dwy'quan Morris, 1 run (Stabe kick).
Statistics: First downs—West 24, Craig 17. Rushes—West 26-141, Craig 39-212. Yards passing—West 177, Craig 118. Passes—West 10-21-0, Craig 5-13-0. Fumbles—West 0-0. Craig 2-1. Penalties—West 4-25, Craig 3-20.