Parker denied share of Big Eight title
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they couldn’t finish their drives and couldn’t finish the regular season the way they’d hoped.
Instead of finishing it off with a Big Eight Conference co-championship, Parker fell out of first place to a 6-3 record by suffering a 27-6 loss to Middleton.
It was Middleton who finished off all five of its red-zone opportunities with points and scored on four of its five first-half possessions. That earned the Cardinals a tie for the conference title, which they share with Madison Memorial, Sun Prairie and Verona at 7-2, marking the first four-way tie in the Big Eight’s 85-year history.
“I thought the difference was they beat us up front,” Parker coach Joe Dye said. “I wouldn’t say we played real perfect Parker football, but you have to give them credit. But the bottom line is, it hurts.”
Adam Vesterfelt posted another impressive night, with 202 yards on 35 carries for the Vikings. However, Middleton countered with a balanced attack of 177 yards rushing, despite losing starting tailback Jamie Hofer to a leg injury in the first quarter, and 160 passing.
That was enough to keep Parker off balance.
“Our offensive line really got things going,” said Middleton coach Tim Simon, whose team jumped off to 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Parker stayed close after Vesterfelt took a pitch off the right end and went untouched on a 39-yard touchdown run. That pulled the Vikings within 10-6 just two plays into the second quarter.
Middleton responded, though, with a 48-yard drive after Shane Adler’s 44-yard pass to Corey Nelson set up Kevin Peternell’s 25-yard field goal for a 13-6 lead.
Adler completed 10 of 19 passes, including a 40-yard strike to Drew Haack, who got lost behind the Parker defense for the first Middleton touchdown. That came just 2:06 into the game.
Parker tried to counter Peternell’s field goal, but the drive stalled at the Middleton 43 after Vesterfelt’s fourth-and-nine sweep came up six yards short.
From there, Middleton marched to the Parker 24 before backup tailback David Ripp broke free up the middle to push the Cardinals’ lead to 20-6 late in the second quarter.
“I thought we were moving the ball, and we felt like we still had a chance,” Dye said of the fourth-down decision. “We felt our defense would have a chance to keep them (out of the end zone).
“They still had 50-some yards to go with four minutes left. I don’t think that was the difference. The difference was they beat us on the line of scrimmage.”
Parker had another opportunity to rally in the third quarter after the Cardinals fumbled away a punt at their 16-yard line. But three plays later, Parker fumbled the ball back.
That turned into a 10-play, 91-yard drive, capped by Ripp’s second touchdown from 12-yards out for the 27-6 margin.
Ripp finished with 98 yards in 24 rushing attempts.
“Tonight, they out-competed us,” Dye added. “We are going to go back and lick our wounds and regenerate for the playoffs.”
MIDDLETON 27, PARKER 6
Janesville Parker 0 6 0 0—6
Middleton 10 10 0 7—27
Scoring summary: M—Drew Haack, 40 pass from Shane Adler (Kevin Peternell kick). M—FG, Peternell, 29. JP—Adam Vesterfelt, 39 run (kick failed). M—FG, Peternell, 26. M—David Ripp, 24 run (Peternell kick). M—Ripp, 11 (Peternell kick).
Statistics: First downs—JP 13, M 14. Rushing—JP 36-218, M 40-177. Yards passing—JP 71, M 160. Passes—JP 11-4-1, M 19-10-0. Fumbles—JP 2-2, M 1-1. Penalties—JP 4-35, M 8-65.