DeForest stops Milton's offense
That’s what the Milton High offense discovered Saturday afternoon as it tried to overcome a stiff wind, a stingy DeForest defense and the Red Hawks’ fatigue in a 10-7 loss to the Norskies in a WIAA Division 2 second-round playoff game.
“It’s real tough to play three games in nine days, and we just ran out of gas,” a disappointed Milton coach Jeff Bachinski said after seeing his offense post its lowest point total of the season. “They had more gas in the tank than we did today.”
Milton averaged more than 42 points in its six wins since a 21-14 loss to Fort Atkinson in the fourth game. But the Red Hawks (8-3) managed just 144 total yards against the Norskies.
Milton bowed out of the playoffs for a second straight year to a Badger Conference school.
DeForest (10-1), meanwhile, is headed for a rematch with Waunakee (11-0) in a third-round game Friday or Saturday. The Norskies’ only loss this season was 27-24 to the Warriors in a battle for the Badger North championship.
The Norskies’ defense held Red Hawk running back Justin Spaulding—who amassed 292 scrimmage yards in Tuesday’s 46-21 win over Kettle Moraine—to just 44 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Stopping Spaulding, who finished the season with 1,282 yards rushing, was the biggest priority for DeForest coach Mike Minick.
“We knew we had to control Spaulding and make sure he didn’t get loose,” Minick said.
The Norskies were able to do just that, Bachinski said.
“They brought up nine in the box and really stopped our running game,” Bachinski said. “But then, we couldn’t get the ball to our receivers down field.”
Milton junior quarterback Zach Fry completed seven of 18 passes for 86 yards and three inteceptions.
A stiff north-to-south breeze dictated a careful field-position game. But once Fry got the wind to his back in the second period, he connected with tight end Matt Fredrick on the Red Hawks’ longest play of the game.
On a second-and-10 from the DeForest 39, Fry hit Fredrick on a short pass on the left side. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior broke a tackle to give the Red Hawks a 7-0 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.
An inspired Milton defense appeared to be good enough to make the lone touchdown stand up.
In the first period, the Red Hawks kept the Norskies off the board after Fry threw his first interception to Jared Konsella. DeForest then drove to a first-and-goal at the Milton 6. On third-and-2, Milton defensive back Hank McIvor knifed through the Norskies’ line to drop 190-pound running back Tylur Lengfeld for a 2-yard loss. Fredrick then knocked down a fourth-down pass to complete the goal-line stand.
“I was real proud of the way our defense played today,” Bachinski said.
Milton’s defense again rose to the occasion when the Norskies, with the wind to their backs, controlled the ball for 19 plays and eight minutes to open the second half. Thirteen of those plays came after a roughing-the-punter penalty.
The Norskies drove to a first down at Milton 3. After three running plays gained two yards, DeForest lined up to go for the touchdown on fourth down, but they committed a false-start penalty and settled for Konsella’s 23-yard field goal to pull within 7-3.
The Milton offense sputtered through the second half, getting one of just three first downs on a broken punt attempt.
Meanwhile, Minick simplified things for his offense as it marched into the fourth-quarter wind. He had Lengfeld line up six yards behind center and used the direct snap to his most talented back.
Lengfeld ran right, then left, then left and right again. Finally, with 9:23 left in the game, he broke a tackle about three yards down field and rumbled for a 33-yard touchdown and a 10-7 lead.
“We thought we saw some good matchups with that formation,” said Minick, who hadn’t used the direct snap to Lengfeld in previous games. “We were able to get our fullback involved, and we spread out their defense.”
Lengfeld finished the day with 125 yards rushing on 34 carries.
Milton’s next possession was a three-and-out. Then, after controlling the ball with Lengfeld for three first downs and taking almost four minutes off the clock, the Norskies punted to the Milton 4 with under four minutes remaining.
Four plays later, Fry’s final pass was picked off by Drew Barman at the 27 to seal the win for DeForest.
“It was very disheartening,” Bachinski said. “We had some great seniors on this team and we’re going to miss them very much.”