Madison Memorial stuns Middleton

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Madison Memorial's Hunter Peters hauls in a touchdown pass during the Spartans' 31-28 win over Middleton Friday night./Photo courtesy of Mary Bavery

One by one, they trudged off Memorial Field with the same look on their faces.

Shock. Anger. Disbelief. Frustration.

Middleton’s football team seemed well on its way to keeping its unbeaten season alive Friday night. But visiting Madison Memorial scored the final 17 points and rallied for a stunning 31-28 win.

The Spartans prevailed when junior kicker Karl Hummel drilled a 20-yard field goal with 3 seconds left.

Middleton dropped to 5-1 overall and in the Big Eight Conference and is now tied for first place in the league with Madison La Follette. Madison Memorial won its fourth straight game and improved to 4-2.

“I don’t know what happened. I’m just shocked,” said Cardinals senior running back Cam Maly. “We do expect to win. We work hard every day and we get better every day. We don’t expect to just fall apart.”

Middleton scored 15 unanswered points and grabbed a 28-14 lead midway through the third quarter. But Memorial scored a pair of touchdowns in a 6-minute stretch, then got the game-winner from Hummel.

“We had dropped balls, missed tackles, missed blocks, missed assignments,” said frustrated Middleton coach Tim Simon. “Just things that shouldn’t be happening in Week 6.

“We talk about getting better every week. Well, this clearly wasn’t our best effort. We need to clean that up really fast. This was a wakeup call for us about how hard you have to go every day, not just on a Friday night, but every day in practice.”

Maly had his best game of the season, rushing for 228 yards on 37 carries (6.1). Maly’s huge night featured two touchdown runs — one a 76-yard burst — as well as a 28-yard option pass for a score to senior wideout Mitch Bacon.

But Memorial’s dynamic passing game proved too much for the Cardinals to handle.

Spartans senior quarterback Emmett Enright threw for a season-high 353 yards, including 173 in the second quarter alone.

Middleton tried a bevy of defenses against Memorial junior wideouts Hunter Peters and Jake Ferguson. But none seemed to work.

The 6-foot-5 Ferguson, a University of Wisconsin recruit, had 12 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown. The lightning quick Peters caught 10 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

“They’ve got athletes,” Simon said. “We told our kids that they have some athletes on the field that we don’t have. But we needed our best 11 on the field to be better than their best 11 and obviously there were times (Friday) it wasn’t.”

Middleton trailed, 14-13, at halftime. But the Cardinals seized momentum early in the third quarter.

Middleton began its second series of the quarter on its own 24. And on the first play, Maly exploded for a 76-yard touchdown run.

The interior of the line — left guard Ka’Juan Redus, center William Braxton and right guard Jake Hollfelder — cleared space for Maly to hit the second level. Maly made a linebacker miss in the hole, then outran Memorial’s secondary for his longest run of the season.

Quarterback Brennan Schmitt then hit tight end Cody Markel for a two-point conversion to give Middleton a 21-14 lead.

“I just was patient,” Maly said. “There was a hole and I just went right through it. My blockers gave me a great hole.”

One play later, Cardinals linebacker Caleb Cymbalak came untouched on a blitz and defensive end Mitch Andrews dropped perfectly into coverage. Enright tried throwing a screen in the right flat, but Andrews stepped in front of the throw for an interception at the Memorial 24-yard line.

From there, the Cardinals needed just four plays to find the endzone again. Schmitt and senior wideout Mitch Bacon hooked up for a 15-yard gain, then Schmitt hit junior wideout Myron Ashford for a 7-yard TD that gave the Cardinals a 28-14 lead with 5:35 left in the third quarter.

“We felt pretty good,” Maly said. “But anything can happen until it’s over. They’re pretty good.”

Yes they are. In fact, Simon said afterwards that Memorial was the best team Middleton had played in 2015.
And down the stretch, the Spartans proved it.

Memorial answered with a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Enright and Peters connected on a 36-yard touchdown that pulled the Spartans within 28-21.

After Middleton’s offense went three-and-out, the Spartans pulled even. Again, Enright and Peters hit paydirt, this time on a nifty slant for a 4-yard touchdown.

“We just had a lot of physical and mental mistakes,” Bacon said. “That was basically it. Just not doing the right thing, missing a block, missing a catch, stuff like that.

“We knew they were a good team. Their record doesn’t show how good they are.”

Middleton managed just 60 yards of total offense after taking a two-touchdown lead. But the Cardinals were still  in position to win the game.

With under two minutes remaining, Middleton drove to the Memorial 20 and faced a second-and-1. But Schmitt lost 4 yards on a designed run play, then Schmitt threw incomplete for Andrews.

On fourth-and-5 from the 24, Simon elected to have Jacob Mefford try a 42-yard field goal. The kick was blocked, though, leaving Memorial 58 seconds to work with.

“It was one of those tough calls,” Simon said. “But he’s made those kicks in practice.”

Enright made his final opportunity count and began carving up Middleton’s secondary.

Enright hit Peters for 19 yards and Ferguson for 13. Then on a second-and-10 from Middleton’s 35 with just 17 seconds left, Peters got loose for a 33-yard reception down to the Cardinals’ 2-yard line.

That set up Hummel for a stunning game-winning kick.

“We just weren’t sharp, all the way around,” Simon said. “On offense, defense, special teams. We just weren’t sharp. You only get nine games and you just can’t afford to waste one.”

Middleton, which had routed Sun Prairie the previous week, never could take control against an extremely gifted Memorial team.

After a scoreless first quarter, Maly scored from 1-yard out on the first play of the second quarter. That capped a 9-play, 56-yard drive that took 3:44 and gave Middleton a 7-0 lead.

The Spartans then began attacking MHS through the air, with Enright and Ferguson doing most of the damage. On Memorial’s next possession, the pair hooked up three times for 50 yards, including a 5-yard TD to Ferguson.

Two series later, Schmitt was intercepted by Memorial safety Wil Jessup. But Spartans defensive tackle Ishmael James hit Schmitt late and was issued a roughing the passer penalty, which kept the drive alive.

On the next play, Maly took an option pitch and threw a strike down the middle for Bacon. The senior wideout made a leaping catch over Jessup for a 28-yard TD. The extra point sailed wide left, though, and Middleton’s lead was 13-7.

“We’ve been practicing that over the course of the season and really got it to perfection,” Maly said. “It worked pretty well.”

The Spartans answered with a six-play, 65-yard drive. Enright and Peters hooked up twice on the drive for 38 yards, including a 3-yard score that put Memorial back ahead, 14-13.

That set the stage for a thrilling — albeit disappointing — second half for the Cardinals.

“Obviously it’s a hard one to take,” Bacon said. “That’s where mental toughness comes in, moving on and focusing on the next game.

“We’ve just got to forget about this game and worry about our next opponent. We’ve just got to move on and forget about it, put it in the past. I mean, it’s going to be hard to do, but that’s what we need to do.”

Simon agreed.

“They’ll bounce back,” he said of his team. “They’re very sad and very dejected. But you’ve got to win like champions and lose like champions. Champions are going to come back hungry as heck the next week and we sure as heck better. If I know anything about this team, they certainly will.”

 

Sept. 25

Madison Memorial 31, Middleton 28

Madison Memorial …………….. 0 14 7 10 — 31

Middleton ……………………….. 0 13 15 0 — 28

MID — Maly 1 run (Mefford kick)

MM — Ferguson 5 pass from Enright (Hummel kick)

MID — Bacon 28 pass from Maly (kick failed)

MM — Peters 3 pass from Enright (Hummel kick)

MID — Maly 76 run (Markel pass from Schmitt)

MID — Ashford 7 pass from Schmitt (Mefford kick)

MM — Peters 36 pass from Enright (Hummel kick)

MM — Peters 5 pass from Enright (Hummel kick)

MM — Hummel 20 FG

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs — MM 17, MID 13. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — MM 23-90, MID 45-244. Passing yards — MM 353, MID 105. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — MM 23-38-3, MID 8-17-0. Fumbles-lost — MM 0-0, MID 1-0. Penalties-yards — MM 5-45, MID 3-30

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: MM, Goodwan 16-55. MID, Maly 37-228.

Passing: MM, Enright 23-38-3—353. MID, Schmitt 7-16-0—77.

Receiving: MM, Ferguson 12-180, Peters 10-168. MID, Bacon 4-55.

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