Janesville Craig’s hopes of a first-round home playoff game took a hit Friday night.
Madison Memorial scored twice off turnovers and got two touchdowns passes and a rushing touchdown from quarterback Jason Ceniti in a 41-27 Big Eight Conference win at Monterey Stadium.
With the win, Memorial (8-1) tied for the conference title—its first since 2009—with Sun Prairie. Craig finished 6-3 in the Big Eight and awaits its fate at today’s WIAA Division 1 seeding meeting.
A victory Friday could have potentially helped the Cougars secure a home game in the first round, but they’ll likely start the postseason on the road now.
“I’m disappointed that we lost, but I can’t feel too sorry for ourselves knowing that we’re still playing next week and a lot of teams aren’t,” Craig coach Adam Bunderson said.
“The turnovers hurt us tonight, and the interception is on me.
“We were moving the ball on the ground, but I thought the slant was there, which it probably was, and I got greedy. Their kid made a great play on it, and that really changed the momentum.”
Craig led 14-7 in the second quarter thanks to touchdown runs from Ben Coulter and Tressin Kussmaul, but Memorial tied the game before half on Jeremiah Jordan’s 75-yard interception return.
The Spartans broke the game open with 20 straight points to start the second half. Ceniti bowled in from a yard out early in the third to make it 21-14, and his 58-yard scoring strike to Lekwan Lewis made it 28-14 with 4:37 left in the third. Kyle Doll made it 34-14 a minute later on a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Kussmaul, who went over the 1,000-yard mark rushing for the season, scored two late rushing touchdowns, but Memorial kept Craig at bay with Ceniti’s second TD pass of the game.
“I’m proud of the effort we got from our kids when we got down 34-14,” Bunderson said. “They kept fighting and battling, but we just couldn’t overcome the turnovers. That’s hurt us all season.
“But now the new season starts. We’ve played well and deserve to be in this position. We’re ready for the challenge ahead.”
Craig will find out its playoff grouping late Friday night or just after midnight Saturday. Seeding meetings begin statewide at 11 a.m.
MEMORIAL 41, CRAIG 27
Madison Memorial 7 7 20 7—41
Janesville Craig 14 0 6 7—27
Scoring summary: C—Ben Coulter 4 run (Mitch Woelfle kick). M—Kam Marshall 6 run (Kole Kerkhoff kick). C—Tressin Kussmaul 54 run (Woelfle kick). M—Jeremiah Jordan 75 interception return (Kerkhoff kick). M—Centini 1 run (Kerkhoff kick). M—Lekwan Lewis 58 pass from Jason Ceniti (Kerkhoff kick). M—Kyle Doll 48 fumble return (kick failed). C—Kussmaul 2 run (kick failed). M—Cade Ellingson 7 pass from Ceniti (Kerkhoff kick). C—Kussmaul 1 run (Woelfle kick).
Statistics: First downs—M 17, C 15. Rushes—M 34-150, C 42-213. Yards passing—M 174, C 97. Passes—M 22-15-0, C 14-8-2. Fumbles—M 2-1, C 2-1. Penalties—M 6-50, C 4-50.