The Verona defense bent but broke just once on Friday, Sept. 13, in a 21-6 home win over Madison West.
The Regents turned the ball over on downs four times against the stingy Wildcats.
“We rotate a lot of kids in. We were fresh,” Verona coach Dave Richardson said. “We tried to make West tired because they have a lot of two-way guys. I think we wore them down a little bit and got to their quarterback as a result.”
Jackson Acker’s 38-yard run gave Verona a 14-0 lead in the first half, and the Wildcats allowed only one long drive in the second half as they cruised to victory.
Both teams marched into the red zone on their first drives of the game, but neither scored.
West (1-3, 1-3 Big Eight Conference) started the game with a 10-play drive that ended in a turnover on downs at the Verona 11 yard line.
Verona (4-0, 4-0 Big Eight) responded with a 15-play drive, but Aubrey Dawkins fumbled and West’s Matthew McClain pounced on the ball at the Regents’ 10.
Verona’s Cale Rufenacht intercepted a tipped pass by Ezra Thompson at the West 48 in the waning moments of the first quarter, setting up the game’s first score.
“We have to fix things on offense,” West coach Brad Murphy said. “We shot ourselves in the foot several times. We ran the ball effectively at times, but we have to complete the easy passes.”
Cole Zoromski caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Adam Bekx on third down to put Verona up 7-0 with 7:28 left in second quarter.
West turned the ball over on downs on its own 41 yard line on its next drive. Acker made the Regents pay with his long touchdown burst up the Verona sideline to make it 14-0 with 4:37 left in the first half.
Nazier Jones took the following kickoff to the Verona 44, but the Regents’ nine-play drive stalled at the Verona 4.
Acker capped the first drive of the second half with a 1-yard touchdown run.
West matriculated the ball down the field using a zone read of Thompson and Jones to get on the board. Jones capped a long drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 10:08 remaining.
Acker came untouched and strip-sacked Thompson on third-and-23 with less than 5 minutes left, and Henry Tang recovered at the West 30. Jones intercepted Bekx and raced 56 yards to the Verona 34, but the Regents turned it over on downs for the final time.
“I was really impressed with our defense,” Murphy said. “They executed what we were trying to do and fought their hearts out. That’s all we can ask of them.”
Acker was held to 88 yards on 18 carries. He also caught two passes for 33 yards. Bekx was 14-for-21 for 151 yards, and Dawkins caught five passes for 71 yards.
“We have to get used to people flying in and taking away our running game,” Richardson said. “We have to be able to win the one-on-one matchups with our really good receivers.”
Thompson found some success as a runner (16 carries for 67 yards), but not so much as a passer (10-for-23 for 88 yards). Jones rushed for 69 yards on 14 carries, and caught two passes for 15 yards. Khaki Sanford had four catches for 41 yards, while Dane Armwald rushed for 25 yards on eight carries.
Verona will travel to Sun Prairie (3-1, 3-1 Big Eight) on Friday. The Cardinals are coming off a 39-0 shutout of Janesville Craig.