Rodney Wedig knew his Milton football team had to make it a low-scoring game to stay with top-ranked Waunakee on Friday night.
The coach got his wish. Early on, anyway. A convincing second-half performance carried the Warriors—ranked No. 1 in Division 2 by Wissports.net and No. 5 among state large schools by The Associated Press—to a convincing 48-7 victory over the Red Hawks.
With 4 minutes, 30 seconds left before halftime, the Red Hawks (1-3 overall, 0-2 in the Badger Large Conference) had played themselves to a 7-7 tie with the Warriors (4-0, 2-0).
Unfortunately for the Red Hawks, Waunakee’s Quentin Keene spoiled any upset hopes with his right arm. The senior quarterback threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns, covering 36, 62, 27, 62 and 12 yards as he carved up the Milton secondary.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock after Waunakee built a 35-point lead late in the third quarter.
Milton played lights out defensively the first 20 minutes but had no answer for Keene in the end.
“The wheels came off. It’s as simple as that,” Wedig said. “I thought our defense did a great job of shutting down the run, but we just didn’t match up very well athlete-wise on the back end. (Jack) Campion is so good for us in the secondary, but he can’t do it all.
“Our defense against most teams is good enough to keep us in every game. ... Tonight, even though we were very good most of the first half, their depth and talent just wore us down. We were basically down to our fourth-string quarterback. With the talent Waunakee has, that’s tough to overcome.”
Milton tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter on Zack Bothun’s 1-yard run. After that, everything caved in for the Red Hawks.
Waunakee scored 20 points the final 4:30 of the first half, including a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Tommy Raemisch on the final play of the half.
Waunakee coach Pat Rice called time out with one second left. Instead of taking a knee from his own 40-yard line to end the half, Milton quarterback Terrel Fisher dropped back to pass, was sacked and fumbled. Raemisch scooped it up and scored as a Milton sideline looked on in disbelief.
It was one of six Milton turnovers—two fumbles and four interceptions.
“You can’t make the mistakes and have the turnovers we had tonight against any team, especially a team as good as Waunakee,” Wedig said. “If we’re going to finish the season strong and have a chance to get to the playoffs, we have to take care of the ball better.”
Waunakee continued to roll with a 21-point third quarter. Keene threw two touchdown passes and NCAA Division I recruit Andrew Keller scored on a halfback option pass from Peter James that covered 67 yards.
Milton, which plays host to Janesville Parker on Friday, was held to 160 yards of total offense.
Waunakee rolled despite 23 penalties for a whopping 215 yards.