Middleton holds off Madison West

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Aaron Wills (45), Josh Acker (2) and Middleton's football team held off Madison West Friday, 30-22./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The scoreboard at Mansfield Stadium read Middleton 30, Madison West 22.

If you listened to Cardinals coach Tim Simon, though, you’d have thought his team had just lost by five touchdowns to the Regents.

For roughly 20 minutes Friday, Simon lambasted his squad for nearly letting a 23-0 lead slip away. Simon was extremely agitated by what he perceived as a lack of focus and a loss of intensity.

Yes, Middleton improved to 3-0 and shares the Big Eight Conference lead with Madison La Follette and Verona. But Simon didn’t think his team made the type of progress he wanted.

“We told our guys all week that West is a good football team, but I’m not sure all of our guys believed that,” Simon said. “And when we got up on them, our guys relaxed.

“We can’t play that way and be the kind of football team we want to be. Some of the things happening were unacceptable.”

In some ways, it was a win-win for Simon.

First, his team left Mansfield Stadium victorious for the second time in three weeks. Second, Simon has plenty to harp on as Middleton gets ready for its game at Janesville Craig next Friday.

“We had kids that were playing for themselves and not playing the way we would hope that they’d play,” Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka said. “You know, good lesson.

“The good thing is we got out of here with a win. But it’s an eye-opener.”

The Cardinals dominated the first 32 minutes and led, 23-0, late in the third quarter after a 3-yard touchdown run by linebacker turned quarterback Joe Ludwig.

But West senior wideout Terrell Carey almost single-handedly brought his team back. Over the final 14 minutes, Carey had two touchdown receptions, caught a two-point conversion and made scintillating play after scintillating play.

Carey finished the night with 10 catches for 200 yards.

“He’s going to playing on Sunday’s pretty soon,” Simon said of the West star. “He’s that good.”

Fortunately for the Cardinals, they had built up a nice cushion before Carey began playing Superman.

Middleton held the Regents to minus-4 yards in the first quarter and raced to a 16-0 lead after one.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead just 90 seconds into the game when West quarterback/punter Keishawn Shanklin bobbled a snap when punting from his own endzone. Shanklin recovered, but then stepped on the end line for a safety.

Two possessions later, Middleton junior running back Dion Huff had a 6-yard touchdown run behind what the Cardinals call their ‘Animal’ package. Middleton stacks the right side with its biggest offensive linemen, then simply tries to overpower its foe.

This time, it worked like a charm and Middleton grabbed a 9-0 lead.

“That’s a lot of fun,” said Huff, who finished the game with 23 carries for 105 yards. “We just take our biggest guys and ask them to try and move somebody. I just try and keep my feet going.”

Later in the first quarter, the Cardinals started on the West 22-yard line following a 16-yard Regents punt.

It took Middleton just two plays to strike paydirt again, when quarterback Davis Roquet hit Myron Ashford with a 20-yard touchdown that gave the Cardinals a 16-0 lead.

Middleton’s defense continued to shine throughout the first half.

The Cardinals allowed just three first downs and 77 total yards before intermission. And Middleton cornerback Tre Turner had two huge interceptions, including one at the MHS 1-yard line.

“Our linebackers and D-ends were getting some good pressure when the quarterback was rolling out, causing him to throw some wobbly ones,” Turner said. “I was just able to make some plays for my team.”

Middleton stretched its lead to 23-0 late in the third quarter following a 10-play, 52-yard scoring drive. Ludwig entered the game for Middleton’s ‘Wildcat’ package, and he rumbled for a 3-yard touchdown.

The Cardinals, who struggled getting their ground game going early, began asserting their will. Middleton picked up 46 yards on nine carries on the drive (5.1) and seemed in total control.

“Yeah, we did” Simon said. “But we didn’t finish.”

Indeed.

West answered with a four-play, 84-yard touchdown drive. Shanklin and Carey hooked up on a 44-yard touchdown after Shanklin sold the run, stepped back to pass, and Carey slipped behind the defense to trim Middleton’s lead to 23-7.

The Cardinals seemed to be driving for a game-clinching score early in the fourth quarter. But on third down from the West 15, Roquet was intercepted.

West then needed just six plays to cover 63 yards. Carey had a 37-yard catch between two Middleton defenders on the drive, then hauled in a 13-yard TD and also caught the two-point conversion that pulled West within 23-15.

“We’re going to face kids like (Carey) all year long,” Cabalka said. “Not many that good. But in the Big Eight, every team has kids they’re going to go to. I don’t care if it’s East or Craig or Parker. Everybody’s going to have one of those kids.

“But that kid made a lot of great plays. There’s no doubt about that. But we’re a little upset right now. Out of 11 kids, we were allowing one or two kids to make plays that killed us.”

Huff responded with a killer play of his own.

On Middleton’s first play of the ensuing series, West blitzed quarterback C.J. Fermanich and he dumped off a swing pass to Huff. The middle of the field was wide open, and Huff — who has 4.60 speed in the 40-yard dash — exploded with a 67-yard touchdown catch and run that put Middleton back ahead, 30-15.

“That was an important drive,” Huff said. “Coach called a great play and I got a lot of good blocks. The O-line did what they do and I just tried to make sure I didn’t get caught.”

West kept coming, getting a 7-yard touchdown run from Shanklin with 2:34 remaining to close back within 30-22.

The Regents’ last hope was an on-sides kick. But Middleton senior tight end Chris Olsen recovered with the dynamic Carey in hot pursuit.

West, which was out of timeouts, couldn't stop the clock. And following four Middleton running plays, time expired and the Cardinals escaped.

“We’re really happy, but we’ve got to be hungry,” Simon said. “We’re a good team. We’re not a great team. We’ve got to make that jump from good to great and I don’t think we quite made that jump (Friday).”

Turner agreed.

“We’ve definitely got some work to do,” he said. “We’re excited for what we can be, but we’ve got to work on some things.”

 

Middleton ……………... 16 0 7 7 — 30

Madison West …….…. 0 0 7 15 — 22

Mid — Safety

Mid — Huff 6 run (Polecek kick)

Mid — Ashford 20 pass from Roquet (Polecek kick)

Mid — Ludwig 3 run (Polecek kick)

MW — Carey 44 pass from Shanklin (Bye kick)

MW — Carey 13 pass from Shanklin (Carey pass from Shanklin)

Mid — Huff 67 pass from Fermanich (Polecek kick)

MW — Shanklin 7 run (Bye kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs — Mid 10, MW 12. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — Mid 41-190, MW 27-59. Passing yards — Mid 123, MW 252. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — Mid 8-11-1, MW 17-25-2. Fumbles-lost — Mid 3-1, MW 2-0. Penalties-yards — Mid 5-50, MW 7-48.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: Mid, Huff 23-1058. MW, McNeal 8-30.

Passing: Mid, Fermanich 4-6--75. MW, Shanklin 17-25-2-252.

Receiving: Mid, Huff 3-71. MW, Carey 10-200.

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