Milton head coach Rodney Wedig knew he had to make some adjustments at halftime.
The Red Hawks were trailing 14-0 at the break and their undefeated record was on the line.
The Milton football team was able to make the necessary changes at half as the Red Hawks stormed back from a two-touchdown deficit to defeat Stoughton, 28-21, in a double-overtime thriller Friday night at Stoughton High School.
“First half, it wasn’t that we didn’t execute, I’m taking the blame for that one, I just don’t think I put in a very good game plan,” Wedig said. “But we made our adjustments in the second half. ‘We said, ‘Hey, let’s stop trying to be cute and do what we’ve done.’”
“At halftime coach really preached, driving it down, really putting it to them and just grinding it out,” Milton junior quarterback Evan Jordahl said. “We kept doing what we’ve been doing all season.”
The eventual game-winning score was caught by senior wide receiver Dane Nelson in the second overtime off the arm of Jordahl on a fourth-and-four at the Stoughton 5-yard line.
The Vikings had a chance to respond in the second overtime, but senior cornerback Jack Weberpal deflected a pass in the end zone on fourth-and-10 to end the game.
After an hour and a half rain delay, Stoughton scored two touchdowns in the first half, a 56-yard run from running back Quinn Arnott in the first quarter and a 1-yard score from quarterback Adam Hobson in the second quarter.
But the tides turned in the second half after the Red Hawk defense stuffed the Vikings on fourth and goal and took over at the Milton 3-yard line with 5:55 left in the third quarter.
Milton eventually turned that change in possession to a 97-yard touchdown drive, which was capped off with a 1-yard punch in from senior running back Nick Huber with 10:04 left in the game.
With 4:47 left in the game, the Milton defense made another play. With the Vikings driving into Red Hawk territory, senior Josiah Richardson forced a fumble, which Milton would recover.
With the ball on their own 34-yard line, Jordahl busted a 51-yard run to get into Vikings territory. An unnecessary roughness penalty after the play moved the Red Hawks up to the Viking 8-yard line.
“Stoughton covered the receivers well and coaches just told me if nothing is there, just go,” Jordahl said.
“He made moves when he had to, got on in space,” Wedig said. “Like I told him, on a wet surface he’s tough to tackle.”
Huber scored his second touchdown of the game with a 5-yard burst to deadlock the game at 14-14 with 3:07 left to play.
“The kids have really done a great job being consistent” Wedig said. “They didn’t hang their heads.”
It looked like Stougthon would respond with the game-winning touchdown in the waning seconds of the game after Hobson connected with Vikings wide receiver Nathan Hutcherson near midfield, who had a clear run to the end zone after the grab, but senior safety Jordan Stivarius made a diving tackle at the Milton 16-yard line with less than 30 seconds left.
Soon after, Jayce Rocha picked off a pass in the end zone with 13 seconds left to force overtime.
After the Vikings scored on the first play of overtime, the Red Hawks responded on their possession with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jordahl to senior running back Jerry Jones.
In the second overtime, it was the Nelson, Jordahl and Weberpal heroics that capped off the contest.
“We just stuck together,” Jordahl said regarding the 14-point come-from-behind victory. “Nobody got on each other. It was just support and bringing each other up.”
Jordahl passed for two touchdowns on 43 yards and gained 104 on the ground. Senior running back Jerry Jones led the Red Hawk running back core in rushing yards with 63 yards.
With the win, Milton moved to 6-0 and 4-0 in Badger South play, punching its ticket to the playoffs.
The Red Hawks will look to keep their perfect record intact Friday against Monroe at Anderson Field in Milton at 7 p.m.