FOND DU LAC — The Sun Prairie football team is playing with a bit of a chip on its shoulder, and with good reason. In their minds, they have not been given the respect they believe they deserve.
The sixth-seeded Cardinals may have just earned that respect following Friday’s 34-30 win over second-seeded Fond du Lac in Level 2 of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs.
“We like to keep it in-house and worry about what we think, but there’s team’s that doubted us,” said Sun Prairie head coach Brian Kaminski. “Everybody said, ‘Fond du Lac and Verona in Level 2 is going to be a hell of a game,’ and everyone had Fond du Lac in the semifinals. But, we’re the ones moving on.”
On a sloppy night with snowflakes filling the air at Fruth Field, Brady Stevens threw three touchdown passes to Dominick Landphier, while the Sun Prairie defense held dual-threat quarterback Kyle Walljasper in check keeping their season alive.
Stevens completed just eight passes, but three went for touchdowns of 17, 74 and 69 yards to Landphier. They were the only receptions for Landphier, who tallied a career-high 160 yards receiving.
Landphier had arguably the greatest performance of his high school career. Not only did the senior catch three touchdown passes, he broke up a fourth-quarter pass in the end zone as Fond du Lac was driving for the go-ahead score, and recovered an onside kick.
But there was one thing he didn’t do:“I dropped an interception,” he said. “I wish I could have that play back, but I’m glad we got the win. It’s pretty close (to my best game), but not because of my individual stats; just that fact that we came out on top of these guys that beat us last year, that’s really the best feeling.”
Landphier’s first touchdown, a 17-yarder near the left pylon, pulled Sun Prairie within 16-14 with 29 seconds to go in the first half.
“It was everybody go straight,” he said. “I was on the single side so we knew we had that matchup. (Brady) put it in a good spot and I just went and got it.”
“That was big,” Kaminski added. “It was a momentum-changing play.”
“It’s a team effort: you can say Dom Landphier had a big night, but if the line doesn’t block Brady can’t make those throws; if Brady didn’t read the defense; if we didn’t run the ball the way we did to put us in good field position, those things don’t happen. It was a great team win tonight.”
Fond du Lac (9-2) received the second-half kickoff. However, the Cardinal defense forced a three-and-out as Fondy had to punt.
On its first possession of the second half Sun Prairie senior Jamel Stone got to the edge and showed why he is a state track and field sprinter, outracing the FDL defense for a 52-yard touchdown. Owen Konopacki’s extra point gave the Cards their first lead of the night, 24-20, with 9 minutes, 15 seconds left in the quarter.
“It was nice that we shut that down and then went down and scored, we got that energy back on our sidelines,” Kaminski said.
Walljasper, who did rush for a game-high 131 yards, gave the host Cardinals the lead back on a 23-yard run with 3:16 remaining in the third.
It took Sun Prairie just one play to answer. On the very next play from possession, Stevens hit a streaking Landphier down the left sideline for a 74-yard touchdown. Owen Konopacki’s extra point gave the Cardinals a 27-24 lead.
They would not trail again.
As the fourth quarter began Fond du Lac moved into Sun Prairie territory with an opportunity to regain the lead. But on a fourth-and-5, Landphier broke up Walljasper’s pass intended for Allen in the end zone.
Two plays later, Stevens hit Landphier with a 69-yard touchdown and 34-24 lead.
Fond du Lac didn’t go away quietly. After nearly returning a fumble for a score, the Cardinals closed the gap to 34-30 when Walljasper hi Nick Behnke with a 7-yard pass with 55 seconds remaining.
Fondy then attempted an onside kick, and after a scramble Landphier recovered the football.
For the second week in a row Stone had a career-high rushing total, gaining 124 on 16 attempts. Fellow senior Nathan Schauer added 34 yards and scored SP’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run in the first quarter.
Sophomore linebacker Addison Ostrenga led the defense with 11 tackles and one interception. Senior linebacker Branden Shannon added six tackles and a quarterback sack.
With three receptions senior Colin Schaefer broke Cooper Nelson’s single-season receptions record of 60 set in 2018. Schaefer now has 63.
Stevens’ three touchdown passes tied Jack Zander’s 2017 single-season mark of 29.
Sun Prairie (8-3) will play at top-seeded Madison Memorial (11-0) in a Division 1 quarterfinal on Friday. The Spartans, 30-0 winners over Middleton, defeated the Cardinals 28-25 in the season opener.
It will be the third straight quarterfinals appearance for Sun Prairie.
“We believe in our tradition and we feel we deserve some respect,” said Kaminski.
Friday’s kickoff between the Big Eight Conference rivals is 7 p.m. at Mansfield Stadium.
SUN PRAIRIE 34
FOND DU LAC 30
Sun Prairie 7 7 13 7 — 34
Fond du Lac 8 8 8 6 — 30
Fond du Lac — Allen, 35 run (Behnke pass from Walljasper)..
Sun Prairie — Schauer, 1 run (Konopacki kick).
Fond du Lac — Walljasper, 25 run (Allen run).
Sun Prairie — Landphier, 17 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick).
Sun Prairie — Stone, 52 run (pass failed).
Fond du Lac — Walljasper, 23 run (Sebert pass from Walljasper).
Sun Prairie — Landphier, 74 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick).
Sun Prairie — Landphier, 69 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick).
Fond du Lac — Behnke, 7 pass from Walljasper (kick failed).
First Downs — SP 13, FDL 20. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — SP 37-176, FDL 41-277. Passing Yards — SP 199, FDL 173. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — SP 8-15-0, FDL 7-20-2. Fumbles-lost — SP 1-1, FDL 1-1. Penalties — SP 6-20, FDL 6-24.
Nov. 1 Results
Sun Prairie 34, Fond du Lac 30
Madison Memorial 30, Middleton 0
Nov. 8 Game
(6) Sun Prairie at (1) Madison Memorial, 7 p.m.