Tressin Kussmaul and the Janesville Craig offense moved the ball at will.
Keeanu Benton and the Cougars defense allowed just one first down.
Throw in a punt return for a touchdown, and it all added up to the most lopsided half in the history of the Battle for Monterey Rock.
Kussmaul scored three of Craig’s six first-half touchdowns, Benton was approaching double-digit tackles—including four for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles—by the halftime break, and Craig ran away from crosstown rival Janesville Parker 41-0 on Saturday night at Monterey Stadium.
“This feels great,” said senior Tegan Christiansen, who had a punt return for a touchdown. “A little payback for sophomore year, when we lost to them. That’s what this is.”
The game was played on Saturday after the threat of thunderstorms led to a postponement Friday.
The Cougars have now captured the Monterey Rock trophy in six of the past seven years. Saturday’s result was the most lopsided in the 52-year history of the crosstown series. The previous record was a 36-0 Craig victory in 1999.
Craig improved to 2-0 in the Big Eight Conference, while Parker fell to 0-2.
“Football-wise, that was about as good a half as it gets,” Craig coach Adam Bunderson said. “We had way too many penalties, and we’ll address that. That’s not who we are.
“But from a football standpoint, I thought a lot of guys got a lot better from last week.”
Craig’s defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, and it allowed just one first down—on a personal foul penalty—on Parker’s first four possessions.
“Starting with the coin flip, we always want our defense going first, because we know we’re going to stop them,” said Christiansen, a starting safety. “That’s what we came out and did.”
The Cougars responded by scoring on their ensuing possessions all four times.
On the first two, Kussmaul scored on 14-yard touchdown runs. He finished with 11 carries for 109 yards.
“That was a pretty impressive half, but I think we can be even better,” Kussmaul said. “Our offensive line opened some big holes for us all night. It started right away.”
Trevion Moore added a touchdown run of his own, and then Christiansen, on the first play of the second quarter, returned a punt 49 yards, shedding would-be tacklers on the way to Craig’s fourth touchdown.
The Cougars outgained the Vikings 304-13 in total offensive yards in the first half.
“We just got beat up front,” Parker coach Clayton Kreger said. “We’ve got to go with the guys that care about their teammates more than themselves. We’ll struggle if we have a lot of kids pointing fingers at other people. The first thing we have to do is point the finger at ourselves and look at the guy in the mirror.
“They had us all game. But losing just makes us want to work even harder. We’re not giving up.”
Parker moved the ball into Craig territory for the first time midway through the second quarter, only to see Benton—a University of Wisconsin verbal commitment—record strip sacks on two consecutive plays. The Vikings recovered the ball on the first, but the Cougars recovered the next, when Benton and senior Jacob Fieiras converged on the quarterback simultaneously.
Devin Alderson, who finished with 94 yards on just five carries, also scored a second-quarter touchdown, and Kussmaul’s 51-yard burst down the left sideline with just over a minute left led to a running clock and a swift-moving second half.
Craig hosts Verona on Friday in a battle of two of the Big Eight Conference’s three remaining unbeaten teams. Parker travels to Sun Prairie (1-1).
CRAIG 41, PARKER 0
Janesville Parker 0 0 0 0—0
Janesville Craig 20 21 0 0—41
Scoring: C—Tressin Kussmaul 14 run (Mitchell Woelfle kick). C—Kussmaul 14 run (Woelfle kick). C—Trevion Moore 9 run (kick blocked). C—Tegan Christiansen 49 punt return (Woelfle kick). C—Devin Alderson 19 run (Woelfle kick). C—Kussmaul 51 run (Woelfle kick).
Statistics: First downs—Parker 4, Craig 14. Rushing—Parker 34-44, Craig 39-300. Passing yards—Parker 8, Craig 22. Passes—Parker 12-4-2, Craig 2-1-0. Fumbles—Craig 1-0, Parker 3-2. Penalties—Parker 2-30, Craig 9-100.