Game-changing defensive stop ignites Craig
At least for one night, it was.
With just two yards standing in the way of Beloit Memorial’s golden opportunity to run into the locker room at halftime with the lead over arch-rival Craig, the Purple Knights elected to run the ball with no timeouts left and 12 seconds to play.
Beloit running back Brandon Thiering was devoured by the Cougar defensive line at the 2-yard line as time expired, which helped the Cougars steal momentum and maintain a
7-6 lead at the intermission.
From that point, the Cougars (1-2) never looked back. They outscored Beloit 31-14 in the second half en route to a decisive 38-20 victory in Big Eight Conference action here Friday night.
Craig quarterback Cameron Wright threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another to lead the way to Craig’s first victory of the season.
Overall, the Cougars rolled up 283 yards on the ground. Bryce Loveland led the way with eight carries for 116, Mitch Phillips had 16 for 81, and Wright added 10 for 67.
“Our guys were still confident after two tough losses this year,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “We only had seven points at halftime, but they still believed and battled in the second half.”
The Cougar toughness certainly was aided by the drastic turn of events at the end of the first half.
“It’s a tough call,” McCormick said of Beloit’s decision to run the ball. “It’s run-pass situation. They chose to run it without any timeouts left, and we were fortunate to stop them.”
Craig certainly didn’t have any trouble calling the right plays in the second half.
After taking the opening drive of the third quarter to the Purple Knights’ 20, the Cougars found themselves with a fourth-and-14.
Wright then rolled left and hit Siven Furseth with a 15-yard pass to the 4-yard line to extend the drive. Two plays later, Wright hit Austin Schleisner on a 3-yard touchdown pass that built the lead to 14-6 early in the third quarter.
On the ensuing Purple Knight possession, Myles Johnson nabbed the first of his two interceptions and returned the ball 34 yards to the Beloit 20.
Two plays later, Wright floated a 19-yard fade-pass touchdown to Nate Brault in the back corner of the end zone to put the Cougars in control for good, 21-6.
After a Thomas Kitching field goal made it 24-6 early in the fourth quarter, Beloit quarterback Jeff Hollenbach cut the lead to 24-12 with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kejuane Jennings.
But it was all Craig from there.
Phillips answered with a 22-yard touchdown run, and Loveland put the final touches on the victory with a 61-yard touchdown run down the sideline to blow the game open at 38-12.
Beloit added one more touchdown on a Brock Chancy 1-yard touchdown run with a minute left, but it was too little too late.
“I think we showed improvement from week one to week two and then week two to week three,” McCormick said. “Hopefully, we gel a little bit and continue it next week.”
Beloit was certainly gelling on the opening drive of the game.
Caleb Goff capped a 13-play opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Knights up 6-0.
The game remained 6-0 until the second quarter until Wright scored on an 11-yard touchdown run and Kitching kicked the extra point. The game remained close the rest of the half.
CRAIG 38, BELOIT 20
Beloit Memorial 6 0 0 14—20
Janesville Craig 0 7 14 17—38
Scoring summary: BM—Caleb Goff, 1 run (kick failed). JC—Cameron Wright, 11 run (Tom Kitching kick). JC—Austin Schleisner, 3 pass from Wright (Kitching kick). JC—Nate Brault, 19 pass from Wright (Kitching kick). FG, kitching, 37. BM—Kejuane Jennings, 18 pass Jeff Hollenbach (pass failed). JC—Rich Phillips, 22 run (Kitching kick). JC—Bryce Loveland, 61 run (Kitching kick). BM—Brock Chancy, 1 run (Chancy pass from Hollanbach).
Statistics: First downs—BM 13, JC 15. Rushing—BM 35-125, JC 43-283. Passing yards—BM 103, JC 70. Passes—BM 21-8-3. JC 11-6-0. Fumbles—BM 4-0, JC 0-0. Penalties—BM 3-15, JC 11-71.