Middleton stays undefeated in Big Eight play
The Middleton Cardinals employed a little deception to start the second half against Madison La Follette Friday night and their defense kept the Lancers’ bottled up enough to emerge with a 24-13 victory in a matchup of unbeatens.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a couple of weeks,” Middleton head coach Tim Simon said of the kickoff return play his team executed. “I think every team has different variations, but it’s something we thought we could get if we had a deep kick.”
Kick returner C.J. Fermanich collected the kickoff to start the half at the 2-yard line, faked a reverse to a teammate and then raced 98 yards down the Middleton sideline for the Cardinals’ second touchdown of the game. The kick return put Middleton up 14-0 against La Follette at Lussier Stadium.
Middleton (4-0, 4-0 Big Eight) kept its undefeated season going while La Follette (3-1, 3-1 Big Eight) was sent to its first defeat.
The first score came in the second quarter as Brennan Schmitt called an audible on fourth and 1. He broke through the La Follette defensive line and 25 yards later was in the end zone for a touchdown that put Middleton up 7-0.
Middleton’s defense was able to bottle up La Follette’s dual-threat quarterback Julian Patton, collecting four official sacks on the night and taking him down in the backfield another five or six times as he was trying to scramble.
“They were switching up their fronts and we didn’t know exactly where they were coming from,” La Follette head coach Scott Swanson said. “They’re well-coached and they played a great game.”
It was a struggle for both offenses to get anything going on the ground, as both teams averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Forty of the Lancers’ 52 rushing yards came in one run, as Elias Sobah broke a big touchdown run with 9 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter to close the Middleton lead to 14-7.
After a big game one week ago, Middleton running back Cam Maly was held to 47 yards on 20 carries Friday night.
“Every yard was a grinder,” said Simon. “We knew that going into the game. We were able to get Cam open on the few runs we could spring, but we knew it would be that type of a game. They’re very physical and very good.”
One of those runs that Maly was able to get free went for an 11-yard touchdown that gave Middleton a two touchdown lead over La Follette, 21-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. Middleton would add a field goal later in the fourth quarter for a 24-7 margin.
La Follette tried to make the final minutes of the game interesting as Sobah scored from 2 yards out with 3 minutes left. Middleton blocked the extra point attempt and led 24-13 over the Lancers.
La Follette then recovered a fumbled exchange between Schmitt and Maly in Cardinal territory at the 30-yard line. However, the Lancers were unable to move the ball on the drive and Patton threw an incomplete pass on fourth down with less than a minute to go in the game.