Sep. 25—JANESVILLE — Owen Shucha was the rock that helped bring the Monterey Rock back to the Janesville Craig trophy case Friday night.
The bruising junior fullback rushed for 124 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Craig to a 27-23 win over crosstown rival Janesville Parker in the Battle for Monterey Rock at Monterey Stadium.
Craig improved to 3-3 overall, but more important, 3-1 in the Badger Large Conference and one win away from an improbable postseason berth.
Snake-bitten Parker fell to 1-5 and 0-4 in conference play.
Craig trailed 23-20 in the fourth quarter, but got the go-ahead score on Shucha's 26-yard scamper with 5:48 to play.
Shucha said getting the coveted Monterey Rock trophy back was first and foremost on the minds of the players and coaches all week.
"If you have the Rock, you're the stuff and you run Janesville," Shucha said.
"And to go from 0-5 like we were last year, to ending the game against Parker in victory formation and getting the Rock back is really special."
Both teams moved the ball at will the first half. Craig scored on its opening-drive on Shucha's 5-yard run, but Parker answered right back to take an 8-7 lead on Preston Nelson's 10-yard scoring strike to Cayden Brandenburg and Griffin Davis' 2-point conversion run.
The teams traded touchdowns again before Shucha bulled in from four yards out with 5:44 left in the half to give Craig a 20-15 halftime lead.
Parker took its last lead on its first possession of the second half on Davis' 1-yard plunge with 9:37 left in the third quarter.
The Vikings had a chance to extend a 23-20 lead late in the third quarter when Cash Davis blocked a Craig punt at the Cougars' 16-yard line but could not take advantage of the short field.
"Our focus has been all year and will continue to be what do we need to do as a team to finish games," Parker coach Clayton Kreger said. " We played hard and the effort was great, but we came up short again and that's what is so frustrating.
"But give credit to Craig and coach Bunderson. That's a good football team maybe on the road to the playoffs."
Trailing 27-23 with just over five minutes to play, Parker had one last chance to get the go-ahead score but a fourth-and-four pass play came up six inches short of a first down. Craig got a first down run from Shucha and was able to run out the clock.
"We played hard for four quarters and had to," Craig coach Adam Bunderson said. "We drove down the field like nothing on our first two drives, but then the offense stalled a little bit. But like they've done all season, the guys keep battling and found a way.
"I don't know if we're a team of destiny or not, but what I do know is that we've got a bunch of guys that have stuck together, never once complained and come to work each and every day."
Craig plays at Beaver Dam next week, while Parker hosts Watertown.
CRAIG 27, PARKER 23
Scoring summary: C—Owen Shucha 5 run (Lilli Rick kick). P—Cayden Brandenburg 10 pass from Preston Nelson (Griffin Davis run). C—Jake Schaffner 13 pass from Hunter Klietz (Rick kick). P—Omarion Stackhouse 15 run (Kenneth Zavala kick). C—Shucha 4 run (kick failed). P—Davis 1 run (Davis run). C—Shucha 26 run (Rick kick).
Statistics: First downs—C 18, P 12. Rushes—C 46-240, P 35-169. Yards passing—C 67, P 46. Passes—C 8-4-0, P 11-7-1. Fumbles—C 5-1, P 2-1. Penalties—C 6-35, P 6-54