Verona retaliates after Craig's early touchdown
The junior quarterback opened the Craig High football season with a 73-yard touchdown run on the opening play here Friday night. He faked an inside handoff to Mitch Phillips, then took off up the middle for the score.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, the euphoria was short-lived as Ryan McDonald took back the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for defending Big Eight co-champion Verona’s first touchdown.
The return started an avalanche of 42 unanswered points, as the Wildcats rebounded to post the 42-14 victory in a conference and season opener.
“They’re a very, very good football team,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “They have a fantastic team and have some individual athletes that are pretty special.”
McDonald led the way for Verona with three touchdowns, also scoring on 4- and 1-yard runs in the first half. Tyler Parker added 117 yards rushing and another touchdown, which came on an 11-yard run.
After the McDonald kickoff return, Craig used a fake punt from its 24 to gain a key first down on Myles Johnson’s 5-yard run. The Cougars put together a 14-play drive, but Bryce Loveland was stopped a yard short on his fourth-and-goal off-tackle run from the Verona 2-yard line.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Cougars went on another eight-play drive, but it also stalled on an errant fourth-down pass from the Verona 29.
Two plays later, Parker raced 59 yards to set up McDonald’s 4-yard touchdown for the go-ahead score, and the Wildcats never looked back.
“I felt like we moved the ball, but the scoreboard didn’t reflect that,” McCormick said. “We got to find a way to get into the end zone. That kickoff return they got after we scored was a big momentum changer.”
Wright finished with 152 yards on 17 carries as Craig amassed 326 yards on 52 carries.
A scary moment occurred in the second half as Craig senior Cy Badertscher left the field on a stretcher by ambulance after trying to tackle Verona quarterback Danny Burns on his 44-yard scamper. McCormick said the stretcher and ambulance were precautionary, but the coach did not know the extent of Badertscher’s injury after the game.
Burns also completed seven of nine passes for 130 yards to go along with the Wildcats 260 yards on the ground.
VERONA 42, CRAIG 14
Janesville Craig 7 0 0 7—14
Verona 7 14 14 7—42
Scoring summary: JC—Cameron Wright, 73 run (Thomas Kitching kick). V—Ryan McDonald, 90 kickoff return (Nate Ray kick). V—McDonald, 4 run (Ray kick). V—McDonald, 1 run (Ray kick). V—Brian Woods, 21 run (Ray kick). V—Matt Gust, 10 pass from Danny Burns (Ray kick). V—Tyler Parker, 11 run (Ray kick). JC—Austin Schleisner, 4 run (Kitching kick).
Statistics: First downs—JC 14, V 12. Rushing—JC 52-326, V 27-260. Yards passing—JC 21, V 130. Passes—JC 8-4-0, V 10-8-0. Fumbles—JC 1-0, V 0-0. Penalties—JC 3-20, V 5-31.