Plummer stings Craig’s hopes
Fresh off last week’s 31-point second half and 38-20 victory over Beloit Memorial, the Janesville Craig football coach was hoping to build some momentum.
Instead, Jaylen Plummer ran all over those hopes. The Madison LaFollette standout ran in two second-half touchdowns to help the Lancers overcome a 20-14 halftime deficit for a 34-26 victory in a Big Eight Conference game Thursday night at Lussier Stadium.
“The guys knew this was a big game for us,” McCormick said after his team fell to 1-3 in the conference and overall. “So it stings.”
Especially after LaFollette (1-3) managed to rally back for its first victory of the season, despite four first-half turnovers. Plummer did most of the heavy lifting with 270 yards rushing on 28 carries, including three touchdowns.
“Jaylen is growing each and every single week,” LaFollette coach Michael Harris said. “We rely on him quite a bit.”
Craig did not force a punt all night, but the four first-half Lancer turnovers helped the Cougars grab their six-point halftime lead, behind two Cameron Wright touchdown runs and another from 39 yards out by Bryce Loveland.
LaFollette, however, scored on three of its four second-half possessions, with the only stalled Lancer drive coming on two kneel-downs by quarterback Nick Anderson to run out the clock.
After finally stopping Craig’s 11-play drive at its 16 to start the second half, LaFollette marched 84 yards for the tying score. The Lancers used a 22-yard strike from Anderson to Justin Tobias and runs of 19 and 12 yards from Plummer, before the senior plowed in from two yards out to tie the score at 20-20.
The go-ahead drive was all Plummer as the city 100-meter champion broke free for eight yards on first down before racing 61 yards untouched through the middle of the Craig defense to put LaFollete ahead to stay 28-20.
“We knew it was going to be an offensive game,” Harris said. “They were going to score points, and we had to score as well.”
Craig managed to rally with an nine-play, 56-yard drive set up by Loveland’s 25-yard ensuing kickoff return. That set up Mitch Phillips’ 2-yard touchdown run, which pulled the Cougars within 28-26, but the two-point conversion pass was intercepted.
With 7:07 remaining, LaFollette strung together four crucial first downs before Anderson hit Kyle Christensen on a quick slant, and the senior scored the final touchdown with 2:23 left from 24 yards out.
“It was not a surprise to us how they moved the ball,” McCormick said. “They’ve got weapons, and Plummer ran wild on us tonight.”
LaFollete finished with 470 yards of total offense with 290 rushing and 190 passing as Anderson completed 15 of 20 passes, including all five in the second half.
Phillips led Craig with 92 yards on 17 carries, while Wright added 71 yards on 24 carries, but was sacked five times.
“I had my fingers crossed that we could slow these guys down,” McCormick added. “But I don’t think we did the entire game, to be honest.
“They hurt themselves in the first half. Our defense went after the ball and got some turnovers, but consistently all night they moved it on our defense.”
LA FOLLETTE 34, CRAIG 26
Janesville Craig 13 7 0 6—26
Madison La Follette 6 8 6 14—34
Scoring summary: ML—Kyle Christensen, recovered fumble in end zone (kick failed). JC—Cameron Wright, 4 run (kick failed). JC—Bryce Loveland, 39 run (William Eden kick). ML—Jaylen Plummer, 19 run (Christensen, pass from Nick Anderson). JC—Wright, 11 run (Eden kick). ML—Plummer, 2 run (kick failed). ML—Plummer, 61 run (Christensen, pass from Anderson). JC—Mitch Phillips, 2 run (pass failed). ML—Christensen, 24 pass from Anderson (run failed).
Statistics: First downs—JC 15, ML 20. Rushing—JC 53-235, ML 36-290. Yards passing—JC 50, ML 190. Passes—JC 8-2-0, ML 20-15-1. Fumbles—JC 3-1, ML 4-3. Penalties—JC 5-45, ML 7-55.