Badger hangs on to beat Milton in Division 2 round one thriller

·4 min read

Oct. 23—LAKE GENEVA — Matt Hensler wasn't worried about style points Friday night.

All the Lake Geneva Badger football coach cared about was surviving to play another week, and that's exactly what he got.

Cole Berghorn rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns to lead Badger to a 21-20 win over Milton in a WIAA Division 2 first round game.

Second-seeded Badger (8-2) hosts sixth-seeded Kettle Moraine in a second-round game next Friday.

Milton, despite 205 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Zack Bothun, came up short in finishing the season 4-6.

The Red Hawks got within a point at 21-20 with 3:54 to play on Bothun's third TD of the game, but a two-point conversion pass came up short. The Badgers were able to generate three first downs on the ensuing drive and were able to run out the clock with Milton out of timeouts.

"You can put together all the cliches you want, but all you want to do is move on and win," Hensler said. "And like one of our coach's always says, never downgrade a win.

"I thought we played well offensively. We moved the ball up and down the field, but we had three turnovers in the red zone."

A 41-yard touchdown run by Berghorn and a 59-yard scoring strike from Kegan Huber to Chandler Loveridge gave Badger a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.

Milton, behind a third straight monstrous game from Bothun, battled back. The bruising 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior raced in from 23 yards out with 8:26 left in the half to cut the lead to 14-6. In his last three games, Bothun rushed for over 800 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.

Badger got a 1-yard TD run from Berghorn to cap off a 17-play drive to start the second half to push the lead to 21-6, but Bothun broke loose for 62 yards on the first play of the ensuing series to make it a one-possession game.

Bothun got the final points of the game on a 1-yard run with 3:54 to play, but the two-point conversion attempt failed as Milton coach Rodney Wedig elected to try and take the lead instead of kicking for the tie.

"Their offense is so tough, that we figured our best chance was to try and win it right there," Wedig said of the two-point attempt. "And our kicking situation is not the best, either. We're down to our third holder because of injuries.

"Our defense made great adjustments all game, and to hold that offense to 21 points says a lot about how we played defensively. We said coming in that we needed to score 28 points to win and that was the case."

Badger put the ball in the hands of Berghorn to try and run out the clock and the strategy worked. He picked up two first downs, while Huber added another one. Wedig thought about letting Badger score to try and get the ball back, but Berghorn was smart enough to take a knee after picking up a first down, which allowed Badger to run out the clock.

Berghorn echoed the words of his head coach by saying all that mattered was to win and move on.

"We weren't ready for it to end here," Berghorn said. "I told the team, "Camp Randall is where it ends."

"It came down to us just having to keep pounding on them and running the clock down, and we were able to do that."

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BADGER 21, MILTON 20

Milton;0;6;8;6—20

Lake Geneva Badger;14;0;7;0—21

Scoring summary: B—Cole Berghorn 41 run (Andrew Karnatz kick). B—Chandler Loveridge 59 pass from Kegan Huber (Karnatz kick). M—Zack Bothun 23 run (kick failed). B—Berghorn 1 run (Karnatz kick). M—Bothun 62 run (Brogan McIntyre pass from Bothun). M—Bothun 1 run (pass failed).

Statistics: First downs—M 11, B 20. Rushes—M 34-220, B 45-340. Yards passing—M 56, B 59. Passes—M 7-3-0, B 5-1-4. Fumbles—M 0-0, B 1-0. Penalties—M 5-44, B 6-41

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