Sun Prairie controlled the line of scrimmage and time of possession on its way to a 51-28 victory over Verona in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs on Friday, Oct. 25.
It was the last game the Wildcats (7-3) will play at Curtis Jones Field.
Verona tied Middleton for second place in the Big Eight Conference with a 55-6 road win over Madison East on Friday, Oct. 18. The Wildcats were coming off a 49-7 home win over Beloit Memorial a week earlier.
Sun Prairie 51, Verona 28
The Cardinals ran 75 plays to the Wildcats’ 47, and held a 29-17 advantage in first downs.
Sun Prairie finished with a balanced 441 yards of offense, with 233 coming on the ground and 208 through the air, and scored on all four of their second-half drives.
“They didn’t do anything different scheme-wise, they just beat us up front,” Verona coach Dave Richardson said of Sun Prairie. “We couldn’t stop their run game, and then you’re in big trouble because you have to add a guy to the box and then they can pass. They just had a little more juice than us, and we couldn’t respond.”
Brady Stevens rifled a 20-yard touchdown pass to Colin Schaefer, giving Sun Prairie a 30-13 lead with 8:51 left in the third quarter.
Verona’s Xavier Howard muffed the ensuing kickoff, but gathered the ball in time to run 90 yards for a touchdown.
“I scooped it up and my first instinct was to look what I have in front of me,” Howard said. “I saw Cole (Zoromski) block two guys, so I took it up the sideline. That play was made because of him blocking two guys and the guys in the front line.”
A turnover and fumble hurt the Wildcats’ chances at a comeback. Kyle Krantz had a 39-yard touchdown burst up the gut with 8:41 left, and ran in the two-point conversion. He led the Verona in rushing with 73 yards on four carries.
Verona got on the board with 9:41 left in the second quarter. Haakon Anderson had catches of 15 and 42 and a 7-yard touchdown run on consecutive plays. Howard caught a quick slant from senior quarterback Adam Bekx and ran 75 yards up the Verona sideline for a touchdown with 5:25 left in the second. The Cardinals blocked Mason Armstrong’s extra-point attempt to keep the game tied at 13.
Sun Prairie scored 10 points in the final 1:51 of the first half.
Howard had four catches for 98 yards and three carries for 14 yards. Anderson also served as a versatile option with four catches, five carries and 105 all-purpose yards (77 receiving, 27 rushing).
Bekx completed 12 of 24 for 208 yards, while Aubrey Dawkins was limited to one catch for 16 yards. Jackson Acker was held to 36 yards on 10 carries, and left the game in the third quarter after reaggravating an ankle injury that caused him to miss the final two games of the regular season.
Verona’s James Rae and Ben Cramer had a sack each, and Adam Vandervest recorded a tackle for loss.
Verona 55, Madison East 6
Bekx tossed four touchdown passes for the second straight week and the Wildcats’ offense clicked on all cylinders at Madison’s Breese Stevens Field.
Anderson scored three touchdowns — one rushing, one receiving and an interception return.
“He’s just a great athlete,” Bekx said of Anderson. “We can get him the ball so many ways. We know he’s going to get the job done. He’s probably the best athlete to go through Verona.”
Dawkins had seven receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Krantz had a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the first, Anthony Kinney caught a 13-yard touchdown pass to start the second half, and Howard scored on a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Verona 49, Beloit Memorial 7
Bekx tossed four touchdowns in the first half, and completed 15 of 23 passes for 223 yards. He opened the scoring with a 17-yard strike to Dawkins.
Verona exploded for 28 points in the second quarter.
Bekx connected with Anderson on a 64-yard touchdown pass, and Armstrong scored on a 3-yard run. Bekx hooked up with Dawkins on a 14-yard touchdown pass and tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Graham Stier to give Verona a 35-7 lead at the half.
Krantz scored on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter, and Chris Gonzalez had a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth.