Defensive heroics lift Milton over Stoughton
After a couple dropped passes and a sluggish night offensively, the Red Hawks needed a spark to remain in first place in the Badger South Conference football race.
No one expected the spark to come from a defensive lineman, but Jack McCann ignited Milton by forcing a fumble and making an implausible interception in the fourth quarter to help the Red Hawks rally past Stoughton for an 18-10 conference win.
“It was just a great play by our defensive end,” said Milton coach Jeff Bachinski, whose team improved to 5-1 overall, 4-0 in the Badger South and claimed a playoff berth.
“You can’t ask for anything more out of your defense in a situation like that.”
Trailing 10-6 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, McCann lowered his shoulder into Stoughton running back Jordan Adams on a fourth-and-one pitch and forced a fumble that Austin Richards recovered at the Milton 25 and returned 56 yards to the Stoughton 17.
The play set up Zach Fry’s 5-yard quarterback scramble that gave Milton a 12-10 lead.
With 2:57 remaining, Stoughton (4-2, 2-1) took over at its 35 on its ensuing possession, but the drive stalled after two plays. On second down, McCann tipped Eric Gerber’s pass in the flat, caught it, and raced 30 yards to the Stoughton 7.
Two plays later, Milton’s Hank McIvor scored from five yards out to seal the win and hand Stoughton its first conference loss.
“We had the ball and control of our own destiny,” Stoughton coach Sean Stokes said. “But give Milton credit for getting their hand on the ball, and we fumbled it. You can’t shorten the field against a good team like that and give them the ball inside the 20 twice.”
McIvor finished with 111 yards on 26 carries.
On defense, Milton limited Stoughton’s spread offense, which scored 36 and 35 points respectively the last two weeks, to 222 yards and forced three turnovers.
“We were lucky to get this one,” Bachinski said. “We dodged a bullet tonight. We stepped up when we had to and did the things that we needed to seal the victory.”
MILTON 18, STOUGHTON 10
Milton 0 6 0 12—18
Stoughton 3 0 7 0—10.
Scoring summary: S—Ryan Nyhagen, FG, 23. M—Zach Fry, 1 run (kick blocked). S—Eric Gerber, 5 run (Nyhagen kick). M—Fry, 1 run (kick blocked). M—Hank McIvor, 5 run (pass failed).
Statistics: First downs—Milton 10, Stoughton 11. Rushing—Milton 41-103, Stoughton 34-95. Yards passing—Milton 43, Stoughton 135. Passes—Milton 12-3-0, Stoughton 33-13-3. Fumbles—Milton 2-2, Stoughton 1-1. Penalties—Milton 6-40, Stoughton 3-25.