BREAKING: Badgers bust off 600 yards, wallop Wilmot
Badger running back Chris Walker ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries Friday night. Mike Ramczyk.
September 24, 2011 | 11:17 AMWilmot - This was not supposed to happen.
Fans filled Frank Bucci Field in droves Friday night, anxiously anticipating a battle for Southern Lakes supremacy between the Wilmot Panthers and Badger.
Wilmot came in with a 5-0 record, one of the best quarterbacks in the state and the inside track on the conference title. Media outlets and locals alike knew Badger would be in for a tough test.
But nearly three hours after kickoff, the saturated stands resonated with silence thanks to a Badger rushing attack which somehow bested its previous efforts and made even the biggest skeptics believers.
The local boys steamrolled their way to 587 rushing yards, a season high by 130, and utilized a completely dominant second half to pummel the Panthers, 55-27.
Badger improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the SLC. Senior Tom Cychner, who forced two fumbles, was ecstatic after the game.
"I'm feeling pretty good right now," he said. "We are pretty for real."
For real is an understatement. Once again, the Badger offense did whatever it wanted whenever it wanted, gaining 603 total yards. Four Badger rushers amassed more than 90 yards on the ground.
And when one guy went down, another stepped right in. Senior Rory Klean was sidelined with a knee injury early in the third quarter and had to miss the remainder of the contest. However, Robert Johnson stepped right up, picking up 98 yards on eight carries with a touchdown, which put the game out of reach at 48-27 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Johnson was ready to go when he got the call.
"I was waiting for it," he said. "I had to step up when I had to step up. I owe it to the O-line. They worked their butts off in the second half. And the defense had amazing stops."
After clinging to a 27-20 halftime lead, Badger decided to put the clamps on Nelson, a Division 1 recruit who racked up 200 total yards and three touchdowns in the first 24 minutes.
The Badgers outscored Wilmot 35-7 in the final half, led by a menacing pass rush and blanket coverage. Cychner and the rest of the defensive line constantly hurried Nelson's throws, often resulting in misfires.
After a Wilmot touchdown cut the Badger lead to 34-27 with under a minute in the third quarter, the Badger offense kicked it into overdrive.
Quarterback Peter Krien ran for a four-yard score with 10 minutes left in the game to increase Badger's margin to 41-27. The score was set up by a Chris Walker 36-yard run.
On the ensuing Wilmot possession, the pressure overwhelmed Nelson. He was sacked on first down, then three guys had him in the grasp on a fourth and 6. Nelson fought through the tackle and flipped the ball forward, but Tom Ritzman picked off the pass, setting Badger up at midfield with nine minutes remaining.
As the Badger students chanted "overrated" from the stands, Johnson managed a 38-yard run and finished the drive with a two-yard score with eight minutes left, putting the game out of reach for good at 48-27.
On Wilmot's next drive, Badger forced Nelson to miss on five straight tosses, culminating in a turnover on downs in Badger territory. Finally, Walker provided the icing on the cake. He sprinted for 45 yards before scoring on a 27-yard scamper with 2:23 left, ending the scoring at 55-27.
Walker's 162 yards on 10 carries with two scores paced the local squad, while Eddy Ruzga, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound beast of a running back, totaled 152 yards on a mere seven carries with two scores. All of Ruzga's yards came in the first half.
Johnson added 98 yards, and Klean tallied 92 in a little over a half. Badger never trailed in the game. Furthermore, the Badger rushing attack had 11 runs of more than 20 yards.
Coach Matt Hensler admired the work of his offensive line.
"Our starting tackle was out tonight, and we moved Matt Brumm in there," he said. "Our right guard, Carlos Garcia, has been playing really well the last two weeks. Nathan Wilson is our center, and we moved up a sophomore, Nick Volbrecht, at guard. We're getting better. Krien is making really good decisions."
Hensler said his kids believe in each other.
"These guys are confident," he said. "This didn't surprise anybody on this team. It was a very good step in the direction of a conference title. Our backs are getting more comfortable, so our timing is getting better and better. Nelson is a great quarterback, and we had a guy in his face and sometimes two guys on him multiple times, and he still made plays. We have to be focused with homecoming next week."
According to Hensler, Klean may have a cartilage tear in his right knee. Hensler said a Saturday MRI will determine the injury's severity.
Badger hosts Elkhorn (1-5, 0-4) for homecoming next Friday night.
Check Wednesday's Regional News for more from Hensler and photos from Badger's win.
Other area scores
Big Foot 68, Beloit Turner 20
Rio 45, Williams Bay 0
Delavan-Darien 26, Burlington 22
Union Grove 18, Elkhorn 7
Waterford 49, Westosha Central 14
East Troy 40, McFarland 7
Whitewater 26, Evansville 20
Brodhead 63, Clinton 27
Parkview 18, Palmyra-Eagle 12