West controls Craig
The Regents, who needed two more wins to gain a playoff berth, got the first one by rolling to a 28-0 lead before securing the 28-7 victory in a Big Eight Conference game at Mansfield Stadium.
Settle led the charge for the playoffs with 161 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns as West outgained the Cougars 239-65 on the ground.
“They whooped us tonight,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said after his team fell to 1-7. “They were more physical than us. They beat us up front.”
West took control early with a 21-0 lead on three rushing touchdowns in the first half to improve to 4-4 in the Big Eight and overall.
“It’s real important for us to run the ball,” West coach Greg Valaskey said. “Your linemen just have to get hits on people. When they do that and create a seam, Settle can get through in a hurry.”
That was the West game plan all night.
The Regents scored first on their second drive of the game, going 69-yards on 11 plays as fullback Evan Zurbuchen scored from seven yards out. After a Craig three-and-out and an exchange of fumbles on consecutive plays, Settle capped a three-play, 16-yard drive with 13-yard slalom up the middle and 14-0 lead.
The Cougars pulled off a fake punt to keep their next drive alive, before stalling at the West 40, which the Regents converted into their third straight scoring drive. Settle capped the nine-play, 68-yard drive with a 35-yard run untouched through the middle for comfortable 21-0 lead.
“When Settle gets rolling, he is tough to stop,” McCormick added. “They needed this game for the playoffs, and they played that way.”
The Cougars lost starting quarterback Cameron Wright to an injury in the fourth quarter, but Charlie Miller directed Craig’s lone scoring drive. It was culminated by a 1-yard run by Keegan Kelly with 7:49 remaining.
Kelly finished with 66 yards on 17 carries.
“It’s do-or-die, and our players have been real focused on the playoffs,” Valaskey said. “We put ourselves in a tough position, so it’s must-win for us.”
WEST 28, CRAIG 7
Janesville Craig 0 0 0 7—7
Madison West 7 14 7 0—28
Scoring summary: MW—Evan Zurbuchen, run (Kenneth Doe kick). MW—Leighton Settle, 13 run (Doe kick). MW—Settle, 35 run (Doe kick). MW—Settle, 15 run (Doe kick). JC—Keegan Kelly, 1 run (Tom Kitching kick).
Statistics: First downs—JC 17, MW 16. Rushing—JC 30-65, MW 43-239. Yards passing—JC 188, MW 51. Passes—JC 31-14-1, MW 9-4-0. Fumbles—JC 2-1, MW 2-1. Penalties—JC 7-55, MW 9-85.