Craig earns first win
At 0-6 and coming off a tough loss to crosstown rival Janesville Parker, would there be any incentive to play hard the final three games?
The Cougars answered that with an emphatic “yes.”
Cameron Wright threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to lead Craig High to a 27-18 Big Eight Conference victory over Madison East at the Cougars’ homecoming game at Monterey Stadium.
Not only did the Cougars find the win column, they also found a way to slow down the high-scoring Purgolders. East (1-6) came into the game averaging 27.33 points per game, including four games with 35 or more.
“We talked about in our pre-game speech about how I had gotten so many e-mails and calls about hanging in there, and the fact that it has been such a tough season,” Craig first-year coach Ben McCormick said. “But nobody wanted to hear that. We wanted to win, and that was all that mattered to this team.
“That’s why I’m so proud of the way we came out and played, especially our defense. That’s a great offense they have led by a great quarterback, and our kids met the challenge.”
The quarterback McCormick was talking about could’ve been his own based on the strong play of Wright, but he was referring East’s Drew McAdams. The senior and University of Wisconsin preferred walk-on threw 50 times for 297 yards, but was intercepted four times.
Wright isn’t at the overall skill level yet of McAdams, but the sophomore was steady in his second start. He threw for 167 yards, and his 51-yard touchdown scamper late in the first half put the Cougars up 20-6.
“The key for Cameron tonight was that he did a better job of reading the option and with ball security,” McCormick said.
“He was able to put together some nice drives that took some time off the clock, and kept East’s offense and their quarterback off the field.”
The key play of the game was Wright’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Keegan Kelly with 7:01 left to play. East had cut the lead to two on University of Wisconsin recruit Marques Mason’s second touchdown catch of the game with 9:43 left in the fourth, but the Cougars quickly responded.
Wright hit Kelly in stride at the East 25 and the senior outran the defense for the touchdown. Tom Kitching’s extra point pushed the lead to nine, forcing East to have to score twice to win.
“We saw that East was stacking the box, so we had a pretty good idea that the play would work if we ran it,” McCormick said. “Cameron made a perfect throw, and Keegan made a great over the shoulder catch.”
Craig finished with 394 yards of offense, including 227 on the ground.
East had 20 first downs, but when McAdams needed to make a big play, the Cougar defense answered with one of its own.
CRAIG 27, EAST 18
Madison East 6 6 0 6—18
Janesville Craig 7 13 0 7—27
Scoring summary: C—Brett Bates, 30 pass from Cameron Wright (Tom Kitching kick). E—Drew McAdams, 13 run (kick failed). C—Keegan Kelly, 46 run (kick blocked). C—Wright, 51 run (Kitching kick). E—Marques Mason, 7 pass from McAdams (pass failed). E—Mason, 12 pass from McAdams (run failed). C—Kelly, 61 pass from Wright (Kitching kick).
Statistics: First downs—E 20, C 16. Rushing—E 18-83, C 45-227. Yards passing—E 297, C 167. Passes—E 50-34-4, C 11-6-0. Fumbles—E 1-0, C 4-1. Penalties—E 3-15, C 10-84.