Sun Prairie hammers Middleton

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Bryce Carey and Middleton's football team fell to Sun Prairie on Oct. 5./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

So much for those dreams of sharing a Big Eight Conference title.

So much for a home playoff game.

Middleton’s football team picked the worst time of the year to play its poorest game of the season.

Visiting Sun Prairie came to Otto Breitenbach Field last Friday, dominated from start to finish and hammered Middleton, 35-7.

Sun Prairie remained in a first place tie in the league by improving to 7-1 both overall and in the Big Eight. Middleton fell to 5-3, 5-3 and dropped to fifth place in the conference.

“I think they were more physical than us, but we also have to get more energy out there,” said Middleton senior quarterback Bryce Carey, who was brilliant in defeat. “We just have to get back to what we’re good at. We’ve got to work hard and bounce back.”

Sun Prairie, which has won seven straight games since a season-opening loss to Madison Memorial, is playing near the level of its 2017 team that reached the WIAA Division 1 state championship game. Middleton entered the night on a three-game winning streak, and with a little help, could have still earned a share of the conference title.

But Sun Prairie dominated both lines of scrimmage and held Middleton’s Kallion Buckner — the Big Eight’s leading rusher — to zero rushing yards. Sun Prairie was in control from start to finish and could have made things even more lopsided if it hadn’t lost three fumbles inside the Middleton 20-yard line.

“We just did not bring it. We did not bring any emotion,” Middleton co-coach Jason Pertzborn said. “And some of our kids had some panic in ‘em and we didn’t stay composed.”

Sun Prairie made it tough for Middleton to keep its composure.

Sun Prairie senior defensive end Maven Kretche had a monstrous night, recording five sacks and a forced fumble that he returned for a touchdown. Sun Prairie rolled up 467 yards of total offense and held Middleton to 24 total yards in the first half when the game was largely decided.

“We made a couple mistakes early and they capitalized on them,” Middleton co-coach Tim Simon said. “There was some panic, a little bit of, ‘What do we do?’ We were worrying about what happened in the past and not enough about what we needed to do in the future.”

Sun Prairie jumped to a 7-0 lead just 2 minutes into the game. Middleton faced a third-and-7 from its own 35 when Kretche exploded through the line and sacked Carey. Kretche knocked the ball out, recovered it himself, then rumbled 21 yards for a touchdown.

That was just the start of a night in which Sun Prairie’s defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage and made life miserable for Middleton’s offense.

“The Sun Prairie team we saw last year was one of the best defensive teams we’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Pertzborn said. “So there was definitely no reason for us to think that this defense was better than last year’s. But they were way more motivated than we were.”

Late in the first quarter, Sun Prairie quarterback Richie Gilles — who threw for 280 yards and two TDs — fired a lateral to wideout Cooper Nelson. Nelson then zipped a 45-yard touchdown pass to wideout Arrie Davis, who had slipped behind Middleton cornerback Mikey Nutting for an easy score.

“We had practiced that and we should have been ready,” Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka said. “But we fell asleep on that one.”

Middleton, which had just 3 yards on 16 plays in the first quarter, then put together its only productive drive of the half. Middleton abandoned its base offense, spread Sun Prairie out and found some success — at least temporarily.

Carey had a 15-yard run on third-and-14 and later hit tight end Max Schlicht for 8 yards on a fourth-and-3. Carey then capped the 13-play, 50-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run that pulled Middleton within 14-7.

Carey, who was under attack all night, was Middleton’s leading rusher with 70 yards on 19 carries and also completed 10-of-21 passes for 56 yards against Sun Prairie’s unyielding defense.

“I thought Bryce played amazing,” Pertzborn said. “He tried his heart out to give us a chance. He converted a few third-and-longs to give us a chance. I just love his competitive nature. That’s what’s great about him. He played big on the big stage.”

But Sun Prairie dominated the rest of the half.

Jamel Stone returned the ensuing kick 55 yards to Middleton’s 37. That set up a five-play, 37-yard touchdown drive that Gilles capped with a 1-yard TD run.

Two possessions later, Sun Prairie had a second-and-3 from Middleton’s 29. Middleton rushed seven and Gilles flipped the ball in the left flat to Nathan Schauer, who went virtually untouched for a 29-yard TD.

“I don’t know what that was,” Cabalka said of Middleton’s defensive effort. “After the way things started, we had a lot of guys questioning themselves.”

Middleton had a chance to make things interesting when Buckner returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Sun Prairie 30-yard line. But Middleton went three-and-out, managed just two first downs in the third quarter and couldn’t make a dent in Sun Prairie’s lead.

“It was frustrating,” Carey said. “We have a lot of weapons, but nothing seemed to work. But I know we have it in us to be a lot better than this.”

Middleton will need to be substantially better beginning Friday at Madison La Follette (4-4).

Middleton’s third loss of the year means it will almost certainly open the postseason on the road on Oct. 19. Middleton’s goal now is getting back to playing winning football and trying to earn the best possible playoff seed possible.

“We’ve still got a lot of season to play yet,” Simon said. “There’s a lot of teams that have made it down to Camp Randall with three losses. We’ve got a lot to do, but maybe it’s a chance to re-focus.”


Sun Prairie …….….. 14 14 7 0 — 35

Middleton …………… 0  7  0  0 — 7

SP — Kretche 21 fumble return (Shanahan kick)

SP — Davis 45 pass from Nelson (Shanahan kick)

MID — Carey 1 run (Pertzborn kick)

SP — Gilles 1 run (Shanahan kick)

SP — Schauer 29 run (Shanahan kick)

SP — Nelson 24 pass from Gilles (Shanahan kick)


First downs — SP 11, MID 9. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — SP 25-142, MID 34-73. Passing yards — SP 325, MID 91. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — SP 16-24-0, MID 13-25-0. Fumbles-lost — SP 3-3, MID 3-2. Penalties-yards — SP 10-85, MID 4-35.


Rushing: SP, Schauer 18-76. MID, Carey 19-70.

Passing: SP, Gilles 15-23-0-280. MID, Carey 10-21-0-56.

Receiving: SP, Nelson 6-92. MID, Klubertanz 3-24.


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