La Follette's Fuller brushes off Cougars
The Madison La Follette senior torched Craig High for 169 yards rushing and three touchdowns in leading the Lancers to a 24-17 Big Eight Conference victory at Monterey Stadium.
In a battle between two teams searching for their first win of the season, Fuller proved to be the difference. The senior, who sat out the first two games due to disciplinary reasons, scored the winning touchdown on a 6-yard run with 2:44 left to play.
“Fuller’s obviously a talent,” Craig first-year coach Ben McCormick said. “He can play football, and there were times tonight where I thought we had him stopped, and he still found a way to pick up yards.
“In the Big Eight, the difference between winning and losing is minute. One or two plays a game can make the difference, and that was the case tonight.”
The Cougars (0-3) took a 17-16 lead with 5:51 left to play when second-string quarterback Charlie Miller hit receiver Brett Bates on a 23-yard scoring strike. Miller came on with 2:02 left in the first quarter when starter Myles Johnson left due to a head injury.
Trailing by one, the Lancers turned it over to Fuller. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound standout picked up 32 yards on second down to move the Lancers to the Craig 35. A 19-yard pass on third down kept the drive alive, and Fuller capped off the 8-play, 69-yard drive with his 6-yard touchdown around right end. Fuller’s two-point conversion run pushed the lead to 24-17.
With two timeouts left, the Cougars got down to the La Follette 30-yard line, but three straight incompletions ended any comeback hopes.
La Follette coach Michael Harris didn’t want to heap a lot of praise on Fuller, but he was quick to point out that the Lancers are a much different team with No. 22 on the field.
“It opens us up offensively so we can utilize our speed on the outside,” Harris said of Fuller’s presence. “We wanted to average at least four yards a carry rushing this season, and we weren’t even close to that the first two games. Tonight, we did a much better job running the ball.
“The team felt that this was a ‘must win.’ Janesville Craig is extremely tough, and we saw that against Sun Prairie. We knew it was going to be a battle and it was.”
Craig jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Johnson’s 9-yard run in the first quarter, and 23-yard field goal by Tom Kitching.
The Cougars finished with only 253 yards of offense, but held the Purgolders to 243.
Miller did an admirable job in relief of Johnson—finishing with 72 yards passing and a touchdown in the second half—but threw two costly interceptions with the Cougars driving.
“Give Charlie Miller credit,” McCormick said. “He’s a kid that works his tail off in practice, usually with the scout team. So for him to come in tonight and run our offense the way we wanted, that’s a credit to him. He had a pretty good command.
“The message afterward to the guys was we have to stay positive and stay together. Keep your heads high and work to get better.”
LA FOLLETTE 24, CRAIG 17
Madison La Follette 0 8 0 16—24
Janesville Craig 10 0 0 7—17
Scoring summary: JC—Myles Johnson, 9 run (Tom Kitching kick). JC—FG, Kitching, 26. ML—D.J. Fuller, 19 run (Nick Anderson, pass from D.J. Fuller). ML—Fuller, 8 run (Kyle Christensen, pass from Anderson). JC—Brett Bates, 23 pass from Charlie Miller (Kitching kick). L—Fuller, 6 run (Fuller run).
Statistics: First downs—ML 15, JC 17. Rushes—ML 31-167, JC 48-160. Yards passing—ML 76, JC 93. Passes—ML 13-5-1, JC 19-6-2. Fumbles—M L 2-1, JC 1-1. Penalties—ML 4-30, JC 4-26.