Middleton pulls away from Craig
Friday night at Monterey Stadium, it boiled over.
For the fifth straight game, Craig High could not overcome a slow start, a slew of big plays by the opposition and too much inconsistency on both sides of the ball in losing 40-21 in a Big Eight Conference game that was a five-point margin at halftime.
The first-place Cardinals (4-1) jumped on the Cougars with 21 points in the third quarter to pull away and keep Craig winless on season at 0-5.
After losing its first four games by a touchdown or less, the Cougars could not make things interesting this time.
“This might have been the best team we’ve seen all season,” Craig first-year coach Ben McCormick said of the Cardinals. “They’re a little undersized, but they run the ball extremely well, and (Shane) Adler is a very good quarterback.
“The biggest thing for us is that we have to start faster. That’s been a theme for us and it
has got to stop.”
Middleton stormed out to a 19-0 lead before Craig responded with back-to-back scoring drives.
Keegan Kelly got the Cougars on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:22 left in the second quarter, and Brett Bates caught a 28-yard scoring pass from Myles Johnson to slice the lead to five on the last play of the first half.
Middleton coach Tim Simon was none too pleased with his team’s effort after building an early 19-point lead. The Cardinals heard about it at halftime.
“A lot of credit goes to Craig because they didn’t back down when we got up early, but we lacked the effort both offensively and defensively in that second quarter,” Simon said.
“Our guys needed to know that you can’t go by Craig’s record and just expect to show up and win. And after we took the lead early, maybe that got in our heads a little bit. That was taken care of at halftime.”
Middleton seized control immediately in the second half. The Cardinals scored on their first three possessions, including Adler’s 35-yard scoring strike to Ian Joyce and a 3-yard run by Adler, a first-team all-state pitcher.
Adler threw for over 100 yards for the fifth straight game, while junior tailback Jamie Hofer finished with 117 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
With his team officially eliminated from postseason play, McCormick said the No. 1 goal now is to find a way to beat crosstown rival Janesville Parker (3-2). The two city schools meet Friday night at Monterey Stadium.
“If you can’t get up for a game against your biggest rival, you shouldn’t be playing football,” McCormick said.
“Our kids have done everything we’ve asked of them and stayed positive. And that’s not easy when you’re 0-5.”
MIDDLETON 40, CRAIG 21
Middleton 7 12 21 0—40
Janesville Craig 0 14 0 7—21
Scoring summary: M—Jamie Hofer, 25 run (Kevin Peternell kick). M—Shane Adler, 1 run (kick failed). M—Adler, 17 run (pass failed). JC—Keegan Kelly, 1 run (Tom Kitching kick). JC—Brett Bates, 28 pass from Myles Johnson (Kitching kick). M—Hofer, 6 run (Peternell kick). M—Ian Joyce, 35 pass from Adler (Peternell kick). M—Adler, 3 run (Peternell kick). JJC—Drilon Grajcevci, 1 run (Kitching kick).
Statistics: First downs—M 18, JC 14. Rushing—M 38-191, JC 43-164. Yards passing—M 104, JC 83. Passes—M 16-9-1, JC 12-5-0. Fumbles—M 1-0, JC 5-3. Penalties—M 10-61, JC 9-60.