SUN PRAIRIE — The Sun Prairie defense once again made a statement. A week after limiting Janesville Parker to 78 yards of total offense, the Cardinals held Janesville Craig to 79 yards in a 39-0 shutout in the series finale Friday night at Ashley Field
The Cardinals (3-1 both overall and in the Big Eight) held the Cougars (1-3, 1-3) to 44 yards through the air and 35 on the ground
While those in attendance would admit the game wasn’t the cleanest, with the two teams combining for 10 turnovers (five apiece), Sun Prairie head coach Brian Kaminski was happy with the final score
“We left some opportunities out there tonight, but the end result was great,” said Cardinals head coach Brian Kaminski. “We know there’s things we have to work on, but that’s true in every game.
The Cougars learned earlier in the week that starting quarterback Eric Hughes, the team’s leading passer and rusher, would miss Friday’s game after being injured in last week’s loss to Verona. Junior back-uip Dan Deltgen
“(Hughes) was banged up all week, so we knew it was a possibility, and Dan had been taking most of the reps in practice,” said Janesville Craig head coach Adam Bunderson
Craig gained some early momentum as Parker Glissendorf recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff at the Sun Prairie 29-yard line. But facing a third-and-6 Deltgen was intercepted by SP junior Mekhi Gullens
On the very next play Cardinals quarterback Brady Stevens hit Dominick Landphier in stride for a 78-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead
“That was huge,” said Kaminski. “For our defense to hold them inside our own 30, and then get a turnover back was big. That big touchdown set the tone for the rest of the game.”
It was just part of another big night for Stevens. The junior left-hander completed 9-of-18 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while adding a 4-yard scoring run.
“He’s a hell of a player and he’s doing a heck of a job, there’s no doubt about it,” said Kaminski. “He’s only getting better and there’s so much upside to him.”
Sun Prairie used terrific field position to set up its other three first-half touchdowns, leading to a 32-0 halftime advantage.
Senior Nathan Schauer capped a two-play, 31-yard drive with a 6-yard run to give the Cardinals a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
Sun Prairie’s next drive began at the JC 44, and eight plays later Stevens found senior Colin Schaefer all alone in the back corner of the end zone for a 12-yard score and 20-0 lead with 9:51 remaining in the first half.
After a safety when Craig snapped the ball over punter Chip Dose’s head and out of the end zone, Stevens completed a two-play, 42-yard drive with a 4-yard run. The TD was set up by a Stevens-to-Landphier 37-yard pass.
Landphier caught two passes for a season-high 116 yards.
Owen Konopacki’s 27-yard field goal as time expired gave the Cardinals a 32-0 halftime lead.
With a back-up quarterback starting there appeared to be some confusion, as the Cougars burned all three of their timeouts in the first quarter.
“There was some obvious confusion,” Bunderson said. “We didn’t want to use them all, but we also didn’t want to get a dumb penalty and put ourselves in a situation where we’d take a big loss.”
Sun Prairie made it a running clock in the second half as Schaefer scored on a 4-yard run making it 39-0.
It was the second time in as many years that Sun Prairie shut out Janesville Craig.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in there, we have to play assignment football. I thought our kids did that well for the most part; we created a lot of turnovers that gave us good field position,” Kaminski said.
Gullens led the defense with seven tackles and an interception, while sophomore Isaac Hamm had two tackles for a loss.
Barring a WIAA playoff meeting, it was the final time Janesville Craig played at Ashley Field.
“I do like coming here. It’s a neat environment, but I just wish the results would have been better,” Bunderson said.
The Cardinals are set for Friday’s showdown with Big Eight co-leader Verona.
“We’ll enjoy this tonight and get to work tomorrow. We’re excited to have them at Ashley Field,” said Kaminski.
Kickoff against the Wildcats (4-0, 4-0) is 7 p.m. at Ashley Field.
SUN PRAIRIE 39
JANESVILLE CRAIG 0
Janesville Craig0 0 0 0 — 0
Sun Prairie 14 15 7 0 — 39
Sun Prairie —Dominick Landphier 78 pass from Brady Stevens (Owen Konopacki kick).
Sun Prairie —Nathan Schauer 6 run (Konopacki kick).
Sun Prairie —Colin Schaefer 12 pass from Stevens (kick failed).
Sun Prairie —Safety, ball snapped out of end zone.
Sun Prairie —Stevens, 4 run (Konopacki kick).
Sun Prairie —FG, Konopacki, 27.
Sun Prairie —Schaefer, 4 run (Konopacki kick).
First Downs — JC 5, SP 17. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — JC 29-35, SP 31-125. Passing Yards — JC 44, SP 213. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — JC 3-16-3, SP 9-18-1. Fumbles-lost — JC 5-4, SP 2-2. Penalties — JC 4-20, SP 11-75.