Badger High football coach Matt Hensler could not have scripted a better start to the delayed 2020 season.
The Badgers’ Nick Huber took Friday’s opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown and a quick 6-0 lead over visiting Westosha Central.
Unfortunately for Hensler and the Badgers, this season-opening story did not have a happy ending.
Westosha quarterback Michael Mulhollon ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 153 more and another score to rally the Falcons to a 41-39 win to open the Southern Lakes Conference season.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a late start to the season and has the SLC teams playing only conference games.
Westosha trailed the opener 19-7 at halftime but erupted for 34 second-half points.
Badger got 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns from quarterback Tannor Garrels but had no answer for Mulhollon and running back Jakob Simmons, who finished with 136 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“I think we had about 2 million mental errors,” Hensler said. “We played a lot of new guys tonight and saw a lot of jitters. It is what it is for a first game and for a lot of guys—a ton of mental errors.
“It’s not the result we wanted, but a lot of guys got good experience. There will be plenty to fix on film, no doubt about it.”
The Badgers took a 19-7 lead into halftime on Cole Berghorn’s 1-yard TD plunge with 25 seconds left in the half.
Westosha seized momentum early in the third quarter. Simmons raced 59 yards to cut the deficit to 20-14, and Mulhollon’s 3-yard scamper with 8:45 left in the third gave the Falcons the lead for good at 20-19. The athletic Mulhollon then hooked up with wideout Jack Rose on a 38-yard TD to push the lead to 27-19 with 2:08 left in the third. Rose finished with seven receptions for 146 yards.
“You can scrimmage against yourself all you want, but until you get on the field against an opponent with the new offense and defense that we have, you have to figure some things out and we did,” Westosha coach Jared Franz said.
“I thought the biggest thing was that our guys were in really good shape. They worked really hard in the offseason on speed and agility, and I thought that made a big difference the second half.”
Badger got within a field goal on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter but could not get a defensive stop until late in the game.
Trailing 41-39 with 1:25 to play, Badger blocked a punt to set up great field position at the Westosha 25-yard line. A holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 35, and with no timeouts remaining the Badgers could not move the ball into field goal position.
Hensler said his young team will learn from Friday’s defeat.
“To be honest, tonight’s game felt like a scrimmage with the amount of mental errors and assignment errors we had,” Hensler said. “Not having a scrimmage and not having two-a-days hurt us, and I know it hurt Westosha, too, so that’s not an excuse. They’ll be better next week, and so will we.”
WESTOSHA 41, BADGER 39Westosha Central 0 7 20 14—41
Lake Geneva Badger 12 7 0 20—39
Scoring: B—Kegan Huber 88 kickoff return (kick failed). B—Seth Johnson 35 fumble return (run failed). W-Michael Mulhollon 37 run (Saeveyon Talbert kick). B—Cole Berghorn 1 run (Andrew Karnatz kick). W—Jakob Simmons 59 run (Talbert kick). W—Mulhollon 3 run (run failed). W—Jack Rose 38 pass from Mulhollon (Talbert kick). B—Tannor Garrels 6 run (run failed). W—Simmons 24 run (Simmons run). B—Berghorn 17 run (Karnatz kick). W—Simmons 10 run (pass failed). B—Garrels 6 run (Karnatz kick).
Statistics: First downs—W 18, B 18. Rushes—W 53-333, B 45-196. Yards passing—W 153, B 65. Passes—W 15-9-0, B 14-6-0. Fumbles—W 2-2, B 4-3. Penalties—W 12-109, B 8-48.
Burlington 43, Delavan-Darien 8—Peyton O’Laughlin threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns and Zach Wallace carried 16 times for 224 yards and scored one rushing and one receiving touchdown for the host Demons, who scored the first 43 points in the opening three quarters.
The Comets’ lone touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on a pass from Josh Mick to Luke Freitag.
Delavan-Darien hosts W aterford next Friday.
BURLINGTON 43, DELAVAN-DARIEN 8Delavan-Darien 0 0 0 8—8
Burlington 7 23 13 0—43
Scoring: B—Zach Wallace 5 run (Ben Graham kick). B—Safety. B—Eddie Casper 51 pass from Peyton O’Laughlin (Graham kick). B—Wallace 52 pass from O’Laughlin (Graham kick). B—K. Hackbart 32 pass from O’Laughlin (Graham kick). B—Ethan Safar 38 pass from O’Laughlin (Graham kick). B—Wallace 86 run (Graham kick). DD—Luke Freitag 22 pass from Josh Mick (Rolando Cerros conversion).
Waterford 42, Elkhorn 41—The visiting Elks gave the reigning co-conference champions all they could handle in the opener.
Elkhorn led 28-21 at halftime and scored a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game that pulled it within a point. The Elks went for a two-point conversion and the lead but were stopped.
Jacob Mogensen scored three touchdowns for the Elks—one on the ground, one receiving and one via kick return. Charles Hall threw three touchdown passes for Elkhorn, including two to Charles Burns.
Elkhorn hosts Westosha Central on Friday night.
WATERFORD 42, ELKHORN 41Elkhorn 21 7 0 13—41
Waterford 21 0 6 15—42
Scoring: W—Parker Peterson 3 run (Ryan Simmert kick). E—Jake Rockweiler 63 run (Woolever kick). E—Charles Burns 29 pass from Charles Hall (Woolever kick). W—Aiden Webb 1 run (Simmert kick). E—Jacob Mogensen 75 kick return (Woolever kick). W—Trevor Hancock 57 pass from Logan Martinson (Simmert kick). E—Mogensen 9 run (Woolever kick). W—Casey North 11 run (kick failed). W—North 2 run (North run). E—Mogensen 15 pass from Hall (Woolever kick). W—North 8 run (Simmert kick). E—Hall 10 pass from Burns (pass failed).
Statistics: Rushing—E 27-203, W 37-193. Passing yards—E 139, W 166. Passes—E 13-9-0, W 20-11-0.