Milton makes a statement
Instead, the Norskies, and perhaps the rest of the Badger teams, received a stunning, “Welcome to Milton” missive—Red Hawk football style.
In a nonconference crossover game for the two new Badger Conference rivals, the Red Hawks fired a stern shot across the bow of the entire conference with a thrilling 46-41 win over last year’s WIAA Division 2 state runnersup.
It was a true statement game for the Red Hawks who left the Southern Lakes Conference with the last four league titles and are entering into the Badger South.
“People should know that our kids work very hard and have a lot of pride in the way they play football,” said Milton coach Jeff Bachinski. “We are very pleased to be a part of this conference.”
The stunned Norskies weren’t even settled into the game yet when the Red Hawks grabbed a 33-7 lead with just more than six minutes remaining in the second half.
Senior quarterback Zach Fry hooked up with Hank McIvor on an 18-yard touchdown pass. After the Norskies tied the score on a 19-yard run by quarterback Tyler Benzine, McIvor took the kickoff back 88 yards for a score.
Fry, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 244 yards, then hit McIvor for a 59-yard touchdown and James Miller returned an interception 36 yards for another Milton score. Then with just under six minutes left in the half, Nick Karleski appeared to deliver a knockout punch with a 67-yard gallop that gave the Red Hawks a 26-point lead.
Instead of hitting the canvas, however, the Norskies responded like champs. Fry finished the evening with four touchdown passes but the first of his four interceptions set up a 26-yard touchdown run by Cory Wipperfurth. Big back Tylur Lengfeld’s 65-yard rumble set up a 9-yard reverse run by Norskie wideout Eric Stewart with 26 seconds remaining in the half and DeForest was back in the game, trailing 33-20.
“Milton is a very explosive football team,” DeForest coach Mike Minick said. “We’re not as explosive but we felt like we could move the ball. We just kept telling the kids to keep going, keep going.”
The Norskies kept going, and they took a 41-40 lead on an 83-yard option pass with 4:21 left. The Norskie sideline celebration was short-lived. Nate Hammond got the kickoff out to the 43 for the Red Hawks. On the next play, Fry retreated and fired a pass up the inside seam to a streaking McIvor who broke a tackle at the Norskie 40 and outran everyone to the end zone to put Milton back ahead for good.
Linebacker Ethan Bachinski’s interception with 90 seconds left finally sealed the win.
MILTON 46, DeFOREST 41
DeForest 0 20 7 14—41
Milton 7 26 7 6—46
M—Hank McIvor, 18 pass from Zach Fry (Nick Karleski kick).
D—Tyler Benzine, 19 run (Garrett Buschner kick). M—McIvor, 88 kickoff return. M—McIvor, 59 pass from Fry. M—James Miller, 36 interception return. M—Karleski, 67 run (McIvor run). D—Cory Wipperfurth, 26 run (Buschner kick). D—Eric Stewart, 9 run (kick failed).
M—Brandon Farnsworth, 5 pass from Fry (Karleski kick). D—Tylur Lengfeld, 3 run (Buschner kick).
D—Stewart, 8 pass from Tyler Benzine (Buschner kick). D—Stewart, 83 pass from Lengfeld (Buschner kick). M—McIvor, 56 pass from Fry.
Statistics: First downs—D 17, M 14. Rushing—D 42-280, M 23-144. Yards passing—D 189, M 244. Passes—D 22-12-3, M 20-13-4. Fumbles—D 2-1, M 0. Penalties—D 2-45, M 4-17.