Sun Prairie pulls away from Craig football team
JANESVILLE Janesville Craig’s football team is proving it can play with the big boys of the Big Eight.
The Cougars have been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter of perennial powers Janesville Parker and Sun Prairie the last two games.
Unfortunately for Craig High, the wheels have come off down the stretch.
Sun Prairie took advantage of five Craig turnovers Friday night to pull away for a 51-20 win at Monterey Stadium. The Cougars (1-2) surrendered 21 unanswered points in the fourth in allowing more than 50 points for the second straight game.
“That’s 10 turnovers for us the last two games,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “I don't care who you’re playing, you’re not going to win turning the ball over that many times.
“And there's no doubt about it. They wore us down,” he said of the Cardinals, who improved to 2-1 in the Big Eight. “We had some kids that were gassed in the fourth quarter that resulted in some big plays for them, so maybe we have to look at what we’re doing conditioning-wise.”
Craig welcomed back quarterback Cameron Wright, who sat out the first two games with a knee injury. The senior responded with three touchdowns and 217 yards rushing, but was virtually all of Craig’s offense. The rest of the Cougar backfield managed only 43 yards rushing, 14 of which came on Jared Krueger’s run on the last play of the game.
Wright’s 6-yard touchdown run opened the scoring, and he added a nifty 42-yard scamper late in the first quarter to give Craig a 14-6 lead. Sun Prairie got within one on Donte Starlin-Merriam’s 29-yard scoring run and took the lead for good at 16-14 on Lukas Otto’s 27-yard field goal.
The Cardinals extended the lead to 23-14 with seven seconds left in the half on Michael Marchese’s 5-yard TD pass from Ryan Curran.
“We knew Craig was going to be good, especially with their senior quarterback coming back,” Sun Prairie coach Brian Kaminski said. “They do a lot of good things on offense, but I thought our hogs up front on the offensive line were the difference. They wore them down in the second half.
“I thought the turning point was our score right before half. That allowed us to come out the second half and get a little momentum going.”
Sun Prairie pushed the lead to 30-14 before Wright scored from seven yards out to trim the lead to 10. McCormick opted to go for two to cut the lead to one score, but Wright was stuffed short of the goal line.
The Cardinals then put the game away on Starlin-Merriam's 37-yard run.
Despite back-to-back blowout losses, McCormick remains confident in his team.
“The sun is going to come up tomorrow, and we have to get back to doing what we know how to do, and that is work hard,” McCormick said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself in this league, and I know our kids won’t.
“We'll get back at it, improve, and hopefully, clean up some of the mistakes."
SUN PRAIRIE 51, CRAIG 20
Sun Prairie 6 17 7 21--51
Janesville Craig 14 0 0 6--20
Scoring summary: JC—Cameron Wright, 6 run (Monica Speth kick). SP—Phillip Williams, 5 run (kick failed). C--Wright, 42 run (Speth kick). SP—Donte Starlin-Merriam, 29 run (Lukas Otto kick). SP—FG, Otto, 27. SP—Michael Marchese, 5 pass from Ryan Curran (Otto kick). SP--Curran, 1 run (Otto kick). J—Wright, 7 run (run failed). SP—Starlin-Merriam, 37 run (Otto kick). SP—Starlin-Merriam, 1 run (Otto kick). SP—Ben Oliver, 30
fumble return (Otto kick).
Statistics: First downs—SP 20, JC 15. Rushing—SP 41-315, JC 58-260. Yards passing—SP 163, C 13. Passes—SP 14-11-1, JC 4-2-1. Fumbles-—SP 3-1, JC 5-4. Penalties—SP 6-65, C 4-26.