Middleton shuts down Craig offense
Craig High now is forced to win its final two games to qualify for the WIAA playoffs. Unfortunately for the Cougars, undefeated and third-ranked Verona is next on the schedule.
With the loss, Craig fell to 3-4, while Middleton improved to 6-1 and took over undisputed second place.
“Tonight, we just never got into a rhythm offensively,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “Middleton is good, and they fly to the football. We made a play or two here or there, but just never got it going.”
The Cougars jumped in front after John Olsen out-jumped two Middleton defenders at the pylon and hauled in Cameron Wright’s 35-yard touchdown pass with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
Middleton regrouped to score 24 straight points and overtake Craig.
“It was a frustrating night for our offense,” McCormick said. “But they have a good defense. So give them the credit.”
Dylan Hoskins stripped the ball away from Tyler Krause with 8:05 left in the game and raced 60 yards to pull Craig within 24-14. The Cougars could not close the gap in the final minutes.
Between the two big plays, Craig had drive after drive stall out, and Middleton took advantage.
The Cardinals needed just five plays to answer Olsen’s touchdown. Antoine Buchan-on out-jumped the Craig defense in the corner of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Redders to start the rally.
After Craig’s next drive stalled after five plays, Middleton answered with a nine-play drive that resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Derek Rongstad for the go-ahead score that made it 10-7.
“We told our guys Janesville Craig is a pretty good football team and their backs are against the wall,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “I think we were a little flat to start the game.
“Janesville Craig took advantage. I thought they had all the rhythm in the first half, but in the second half our guys did step up their play a little bit.”
Redders finished with 189 yards passing by completing 12 of 18 attempts. Mike Stevenson added 99 yards rushing and two second-half touchdowns of 8 and 11 yards, respectively.
Wright completed eight of 17 passes for 113 yards, while adding 55 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” McCormick said. “We had five starters who suited up last week and didn’t suit up this week.
“So I thought our guys that came off the bench did a fantastic job. But the big thing for us tonight was offensively. We had a tough time getting anything going.”
MIDDLETON 24, CRAIG 14
Janesville Craig 7 0 0 7—14
Middleton 7 3 7 7—24
Scoring summary: JC—John Olson, 35 pass from Cameron Wright (Monica Speth kick). M—Antoine Buchanon, 22 pass from A.J. Redders (Derek Rongstad kick). FG—Rongstad, 31. M—Mike Stevenson, 8 run (Rongstad kick). M—Stevenson, 12 run (Rongstad kick). JC—Dylan Hoskins, 66 fumble return (Speth kick).
Statistics: First downs—JC 11, M 17. Rushing—JC 36-78, M 39-178. Yards passing—JC 114, M 192. Passes—JC 17-8-0, M 20-13-1. Fumbles—JC 1-0, M 4-1. Penalties—JC 3-15, M 10-85.