Lake Geneva controls destiny for outright SLC title

Nick Klug has torn up defenses the past two weeks, with eight touchdown passes. (John Fisher/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

WILMOT – Lake Geneva Badger players stormed the field, jumping in jubilation while Wilmot players fell to their knees and agonized over a play spectators are sure to be talking about for years.

On Friday night at Frank Bucci Field, the Panthers, down 31-24 in overtime and facing a 4th-and-goal from the 2, fumbled away their once-promising hopes of a Southern Lakes Conference championship, only to fall on the football and recover inches from the goal line.

The shotgun snap was high, and backup quarterback Zach Lamberson, in for an injured AJ Frisby, lost the ball in front of him, it popped up high in the air, a few feet above the left tackle, and fluttered down to the goal line, where Alex Willemark seemed to recover for the touchdown, fully extended with the football over the plane.

But officials saw it otherwise, immediately ruling Willemark was down inches shy of scoring, and Lake Geneva escaped with a 31-24 overtime victory, an improbable outcome after the Badgers trailed 21-6 at halftime and 24-13 in the fourth quarter.

Wilmot fell to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in conference, while Badger remained perfect in the SLC (6-1, 5-0).

After the four officials huddled to confirm the call, the head official said “game over,” and the Badger players, who were already on the field leaping in celebration, continued cheering while the shocked Panthers players walked slowly off the field in disbelief.

“We tried to drive the ball in since we were close to the end zone,” said Robert Brent, who played some quarterback and gave a valiant performance in his first game back after a torn MCL. “We didn’t push hard enough. We gave it all we got, but it came up short.”

“I honestly think we played great. I love the guys on my team. I love them with all my heart. I’ll do anything for them.”

Badger quickly took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, but Wilmot took to the air and built a lead.

AJ Frisby, the starting Wilmot quarterback who left the game with an injury, ran for a 9-yard score and also fired a touchdown pass to Kade Carlson, and Lamberson added a touchdown strike to Carlson. The Panthers were in control, up 21-6 at the half.

But much like he does and the Badgers have done all year, William Keller and the boys came back – with a vengeance.

With Wilmot up 24-13 and threatening inside the Badger 5 to put the game away with eight minutes left, Keller darted in front of a Frisby pass and sprinted 101 yards for a touchdown, a huge momentum swing that gave Badger new life at 24-21.

Then, Badger got the ball back, and their 2-minute drill yielded a Josh Taddeo 34-yard field goal with a minute to go to tie things up.

In overtime, Badger had the ball first and faced a 4th-and-6. Surges stepped left and rode an effective fake, then tucked the ball in and bolted inside the 10. A couple plays later, Wes Sontag’s 7-yard score made it 31-24.

Tough running from Brent on 3rd-and-goal on a pitch left got the ball inches from the end zone, setting up the somewhat controversial, bizarre final play.

Badger, No. 8 in the state in Division 1, hosts Elkhorn next Friday before finishing the season at Union Grove. Those two teams are a combined 4-10.

Wilmot now must win one of its final two games, at Burlington and at home against county rival Westosha Central, to clinch a playoff berth.

Friday night’s unbelievable final play was just inches from a Wilmot victory, which would’ve put it in the driver’s seat for a share of the conference championship.

 

Burlington 35, Delavan-Darien 7

Nick Klug tossed four touchdowns, Grant Tully ran for 135 yards, and the Demons defense brought their hard hats, allowing only 127 total yards in a wall-to-wall domination Friday night in Delavan.

Though the Demons missed two short field goals in the first half, Klug capitalized on most opportunities, connecting with Nick Webley for 26 yards and Joe Tully for 2 yards in the first half.

Zach Anderson added a 4-yard score to make it 14-0 midway through the second quarter.

It was more of the same in the second half, as the Demon defense held the Comets to 2.8 yards per carry for the game and 45 rushing yards.

Delavan quarterback Dakota Williams was held to 25 passing yards on only 6-for-18. Seth Grabow relieved him late and tossed a garbage time touchdown.

But the Comets didn’t score until the Demons were done, as Klug hit Jack Hartzell for 19 yards and Webley again for 27 yards in the fourth quarter.

Burlington has now won two straight games, outscoring opponents 91-41.

The offense is clicking right now, and it will need to continue as Wilmot visits Burlington for Homecoming next Friday. Burlington must beat either Wilmot or Elkhorn in two weeks to clinch its first playoff appearance since 2014.

Klug finished 11-for-23 with 177 yards passing and added 46 yards on the ground.

Webley caught four balls for 91 yards, and Hartzell added 61 yards on three catches.

Harrison George and Grant Tully each nabbed an interception, and George led the team with 5.5 tackles. Nate Crayton had a quarterback sack.

 

Union Grove 34, Elkhorn 7

Alec Spang put on a clinic Friday night in Elkhorn.

The undersized quarterback with the big arm fired four first-half touchdowns, and the Broncos improved to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the Southern Lakes in style.

Spang connected with Jack Pettit for 9 and 60 yards, Bubba Rewolinski for 24 and Jacob Ross for 49 yards, and the Broncos were in control up 27-0 at the break.

Spang added a beautiful dime on a flag route midway through the third quarter, which Carson LaPointe grabbed and proceeded to break a tackle before walking into the end zone.

Mason Buelow, who replaced Elkhorn quarterback Braeden Mohr after Mohr left with concussion symptoms after his helmet slammed the ground, scored the Elks’ lone touchdown late in the third quarter.

Elkhorn is 1-6 and has yet to win an SLC game.

 

Waterford 59, Westosha Central 14

Two teams trending in opposite directions continued their paths Friday in Waterford.

The Falcons, who three weeks ago were 4-0 and poised to make program history, have now lost three straight after the Wolverines scored 31 second-quarter points in an absolute thrashing.

Jaden Jackson’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Nic Frederick tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter, but it was all Waterford after that.

The Wolverines scored 45 unanswered points, led by rushing touchdowns from Tanner Keller, Ben Michalowski, along with an Aaron Chapman touchdown catch and a 50-yard Will Ketterhagen interception return for a score.

Patrick Goldammer chipped a 33-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 45-7.

Wes Pittlekow and Zach Helm each added running scores in the second half.

Adam Simmons scored the Falcons’ final points with a 32-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Waterford has won four straight games and still sits a game behind conference-leading Badger at 4-1 in the SLC and 5-2 overall.

Keller finished with 150 yards on 14 carries, his fourth straight game with more than 150 yards rushing.

Michalowski added 75 on the ground.

Ketterhagen tallied three interceptions, and Joe Covelli added one.

It was Jackson’s second consecutive game with four interceptions.

Joe Schauer was an efficient 7-for-11 passing for Waterford with 50 yards, 35 of which went to Chapman.

 

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