The Monona Grove High School football team was playing for a chance to enter the playoffs, and Fort Atkinson was hoping to salvage an upset victory when the two teams met in a Badger South Conference showdown Friday, Oct. 11.
In the end, the Silver Eagles got their wish for another trip to the WIAA Division 2 postseason with a 47-15 win over the visiting Blackhawks in Monona Grove’s annual homecoming game.
It was a bone-chilling night for players and spectators, as temperatures fell into the 30s with the wind chills plunging to the low-to-mid 20s.
The win raised MG’s record to 4-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference. The Silver Eagles needed at least four conference wins to get into the playoffs. Fort Atkinson fell to 0-8 overall and 0-6 in the league.
Silver Eagles running back Brady Killerlain scored two touchdowns on runs of 1 and 8 yards. He has nine touchdowns in MG’s last three games, all victories.
His TD runs put MG ahead 14-0 in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
Killerlain credited the offensive line with providing him and other running backs with the room they need to move the ball upfield.
“Everything up front was working very well. We’re getting our holes and finding gaps and moving people,” Killerlain said. “Our lineman kept blocking and pushing, and I just kept moving my legs.”
Fort Atkinson was pinned back on its 3-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, and two plays later, MG defensive lineman Jacob Sale recovered a fumble to give the Silver Eagles a short distance to another touchdown.
“The running back wasn’t holding the ball correctly; he got hit hard and the ball got loose and I jumped on top of it,” said Sale, a 240-pound junior.
Fabian Jackson eventually scored on a 5-yard run to give Monona Grove a 21-0 lead with only 1:37 gone in the second quarter.
But the Blackhawks fought back as James Vander Mause ran 77 yards into the end zone to reduce the Silver Eagles lead to 21-7 at the 10:02 mark of the second quarter.
The Silver Eagles got that score back five minutes later as quarterback Casey Marron found Owen Croak in the end zone on a 27-yard pass to give MG a 28-7 lead heading into halftime.
Camron Behnke took over at quarterback for Monona Grove in the second half and added to his team’s lead with 4:52 left in the third quarter as he hit Henry Walsh with a 22-yard touchdown pass to take a 34-7 advantage.
A fumble recovery for a touchdown by Mitch Hunter and a 79-yard scoring pass from Behnke to Trevor Ogden put the Silver Eagles up 47-7 with 6:12 left in the game.
Monona Grove had 356 yards total offense to the Blackhawks 283.
Monona Grove 6-foot-2, 330-pound defensive lineman Nathan Wilcox said the defense did a good job stopping the Blackhawks offense.
“I think they just got some lucky plays on us,” Wilcox said. “When we were playing to our capabilities, we shut them down.”
Monona Grove’s final regular season game will be Friday, Oct. 18, at Stoughton, which won at Monroe 53-18. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.