Three turnovers in the fourth quarter sealed Stoughton’s fate in the second round of the Division 3 playoffs against Monroe on Friday, Nov. 1.
Alex Witt recovered a botched handoff and Nick Bansley intercepted Stoughton quarterback Adam Hobson on consecutive possessions to preserve the Cheesemakers’ 14-7 victory at Collin Field.
Third-seeded Stoughton (8-3) went on the road and blasted Monroe 53-18 three weeks previous, but snowy conditions slowed the Vikings’ high-powered offensive attack in the playoff matchup.
“We had our opportunities and didn’t convert,” Stoughton coach Dan Prahl said. “You tip your hat to Monroe. We knew that three weeks ago didn’t matter. They just out-executed us this time.”
Hobson completed a 64-yard pass to Alexander Cisewski to the Monroe 5-yard line at the end of the third quarter, but Witt recovered the fumble on the first play of the fourth with the Badger South Conference rivals locked in a 7-7 tie.
Cheesemakers quarterback Max Golembiewski made his one completion count, as he hit JT Seagreaves for an 81-yard touchdown on third-and-10 with 8:06 left.
“We saw some different pressures on the edge, but we were getting a lot of pressure on the inside. Our three-step protection accounted for every defender,” Monroe coach Toby Golembiewski said. “We had a 6-foot-6 kid on a defender that was shorter than him, and Max can drop the ball in there from time to time.”
Bansley intercepted Hobson at the Monroe 22 with under four minutes left. Nathan Hutcherson’s 15-yard punt return set Stoughton up at the Cheesemakers’ 35 with 2:01 left, but Bansley picked off Hobson in the end zone two plays later.
Monroe racked up 218 yards on 48 rushes, none bigger than Tyler Matley’s 9-yard gain with 1:17 left to salt the game with Stoughton out of timeouts.
Stoughton’s Jack Rilling took the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, and Conner Vale converted the extra point.
“I saw a huge opening, and took it all the way,” Rilling said. “I knew I had to get this team going early. I couldn’t have done it without the blockers.”
Monroe answered with a six-play, 60-yard drive, capped by Bansley’s 3-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal. Trevor Rodebaugh converted the extra point to tie the game with 9:14 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton worked its way into Monroe territory three times in the first half, but came away empty. Bansley rushed 46 yards to the Vikings’ 36 with 1:35 left in the second quarter, but the Stoughton defense held.
Bansley finished with 122 rushing yards on 17 carries. Rodebaugh added 54 yards on 19 carries, and Matley had 10 carries for 40 yards. Witt and Deion Hargrove each had a tackle for loss.
Seventh-seeded Monroe (7-4) will face Badger North champ and top-seeded DeForest (10-1) in the quarterfinals.
Stoughton was held to 198 yards of offense and four first downs.
Quinn Arnott paced the offense with 94 yards on 15 carries, while Brooks Empey added 12 yards on six carries. Hobson completed 4 of 14 passes for 89 yards. Konner Knauf had two catches for 15 yards, Ryan Ellingson had a 10-yard catch, and Hutcherson did not have a catch.
The Vikings’ defense recorded eight tackles for loss. Rudy Detweiler, John Harman and Luke Mechler each had two TFLs. Empey and Jack Nelson each had a tackle for loss.
Arnott placed four of six punts inside the Monroe 20. The Vikings committed six penalties for 76 yards. Owen Chase’s third-quarter interception was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty.
Stoughton graduates 16 seniors from a team that won the Badger South title for the first time in 44 years.
“It’s really hard to say goodbye to those guys, but we thank them for their four years of service on and off the field,” Prahl said. “They helped pave the way for this program like the seniors before them. It’s great and all, but we’re not satisfied with a conference championship and losing in the second round of the playoffs.”
Badger South All-Conference
Stoughton had 18 players selected to the Badger South All-Conference Team.
Hobson was named the Offensive Player of the Year, a first-team quarterback and second-team kicker.
Jack Nelson was named the Offensive Lineman of the Year as a unanimous first-team tackle. Empey was the Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team selection.
Arnott was a unanimous first-team running back and second-team punter. Detweiler was a unanimous first-team linebacker, and Jonah O’Connor was a unanimous first-team defensive back. Knauf was also a first-team honoree as a wide receiver.
Tackle Tony Hohol (second-team), guard Gabe Rousseau, center Zach Wahlin, defensive lineman Barrett Nelson and defensive back Teddy Baldukas were second-team selections.
Ellingson, Rilling and Ethan Skavlen received honorable mention notice on offense. Chase, Mechler and Curtis Jaskulke were honorable-mention defenders.