Shorthanded Craig Cougars push Sun Prairie Cardinals
JANESVILLE—The odds were stacked against Janesville Craig’s football team heading into Thursday’s Big Eight showdown with defending champion Sun Prairie.
The Cougars had one less day to prepare for the top-ranked Cardinals and had to get backup quarterback Shayne Ellis ready for his first varsity start.
And although Ellis played admirably in his debut, it wasn’t enough to keep the Cougars from losing their third straight.
Noah Diaz rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns to lead Sun Prairie to a 28-20 win at Monterey Stadium.
Craig (1-3) had a chance to force overtime, but Ellis’ desperation heave from midfield was intercepted by Tripp Soma as time expired.
The Cougars trailed 28-6 in the fourth but got a 1-yard touchdown run from D.J. Weberg and an Ellis 68-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Kind with three minutes left to make it interesting.
“We were already facing adversity with Tom and Tre Hall out, and then we lost (linebacker) Nick Moore to injury right before kickoff and Ross Smith to another early in the game,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “I really was proud of the way the kids behind them stepped up and competed.
“And we gave ourselves a chance at the end against a very good football team. We just ran out of time.”
Sun Prairie (4-0) scored the only points of the first half on quarterback Ryan Curran’s short touchdown pass to Soma. Curran, a three-year starter, broke the Sun Prairie career mark for passing touchdowns with 39 after hooking up twice with Soma for scores.
The Cardinals pushed the lead to 21-0 in the third before the Cougars mounted a rally. Kind cut the lead to 20-6 with a 13-yard touchdown reception, but Sun Prairie answered to take a 28-6 lead with 8:46 left to play.
“They certainly seized momentum to start the second half,” McCormick said of the Cardinals, “but our kids didn’t quit and fought right back.
“We had a big holding penalty called on us to start the second half, and that made a big difference. We were driving and possibly going in for the tying score, but instead we get that penalty on third down after we had converted for a first down and had to punt.”
Craig hosts Beloit Memorial (0-4) next Friday as part of Homecoming week.
“It’s still one game at a time for us. It’s not going to be easy, but I look at every team left on our schedule knowing we can play with and beat any of them.”
SUN PRAIRIE 28, JANESVILLE CRAIG 20
Sun Prairie 7 0 14 7—28
Janesville Craig 0 0 6 14—20
Scoring summary: SP—Tripp Soma, 4 pass from Ryan Curran (Dustin Wunderlin kick). SP—Noah Diaz, 2 run (Wunderlin kick). SP—Diaz, 1 run (Wunderlin kick). JC—Ryan Kind, 13 pass from Shayne Ellis (kick failed). SP—Soma, 10 pass from Curran (Wunderlin kick). JC—D.J. Weberg, 1 run (Joe Glowacki kick). JC—Kind, 68 pass from Ellis (Glowacki kick).
Statistics: First downs—SP 17, JC 10. Rushes—SP 37-142, JC 30-141. Yards passing—SP 213, JC 187. Passes—SP 29-15-0, JC 25-8-0. Fumbles—SP 2-2, JC 1-0. Penalties—SP 5-58, JC 5-56 .