Rodney Wedig has won a lot of big games in his prep coaching career.
Friday night’s 27-20 win over Monona Grove in a Badger South Conference thriller ranks right up there.
Milton’s first-year coach, who led Walworth Big Foot to a Division 4 state title, saw his defense make a last-minute stand in beating two-time defending conference champion Monona Grove for the first time since 2014.
Luke Hessenauer led a defense that bent but didn’t break.
Junior quarterback Evan Jordahl directed a Red Hawks offense that was efficient throughout.
Milton is in the midst of its longest winning streak since 2015.
“We knew when we looked at the schedule, we had a chance to be 3-0 coming into this game,” Wedig said. “But we knew that if we got there, this would be a big test for us. Our kids responded.”
“Our defense bailed us out when our backs were against the wall.
“Hessenauer was a beast tonight, and I tell you, the heart that all of these kids have shown with a new coach and a new system is something else. They’ve bought in.”
Milton (4-0, 2-0 Badger South) led 27-20 late and hoped to run out the clock with one more first down in the last minute of play. Monona Grove (1-3, 1-1 Badger South) held and forced a punt. The Silver Eagles blocked the punt and recovered at the Milton 19. Two incomplete passes and a Hessenauer sack set up a fourth-and-12 at the Milton 21-yard line with 26 seconds left. A pass into the left corner of the end zone fell incomplete, and the Red Hawks had their biggest win in five years.
“The whole time since coach came in, we’ve been preparing for this game,” Hessenauer said. “We’ve had our eyes on this game. They say defense wins games, and that’s what happened.
“Coach Goose (defensive coordinator Gus Wedig) keeps us focused during practice and has us well-prepared. Some people are probably surprised we’re undefeated, but we’re not.”
Milton took advantage of two Monona Grove fumbles to take a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Silver Eagles struck first when Brady Killerlain, who missed the first three games due to an athletic code violation, raced 70 yards on the second play from scrimmage.
Milton responded on the ensuing drive, going 73 yards capped off by Jerry Jones’ 1-yard touchdown run.
The Red Hawks grabbed the lead for good on their next drive by capitalizing on a Silver Eagles fumble at their own 38-yard line. Evan Jordahl, who was 6-for-7 for 107 yards the first half, took a pitchout after lining up in the slot and hit Kai Kerl on a 6-yard scoring strike that made it 14-7 late in the first.
Hunter Pernot completed the first half scoring for Milton with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jordahl midway through the second quarter.
Monona Grove blocked a punt with 21 seconds left in the half and scored two plays later to make it a one possession game at 21-14.
MILTON 27, MONONA GROVE 20
Milton 14 7 6 0—27
Monona Grove 7 7 0 6—20
Scoring summary: MG—Brady Killerlain 70 run (Oliver Huston kick). Mil—Jerry Jones 1 run (Luke Hessenauer kick). Mil—Kai Kerl 6 pass from Evan Jordahl (Hessenauer kick). Mil—Hunter Pernot 8 pass from Jordahl. (Hessenauer kick). MG—Henry Walsh 16 pass from Camron Behnke (Huston kick). Mil—Jones 1 run (kick failed). MG—Killerlain 6 run (kick blocked).
Statistics: First downs—Mil 16, MG 16. Rushes—Mil 50-197, MG 26-132. Yards passing—Mil 107, MG 229. Passes—Mil 7-6-0, MG 27-16-0. Fumbles—Mil 2-0, MG 2-2. Penalties—Mil 5-42, MG 10-62