The Badger’s offense lines up to start its drive late in the ballgame Friday against Kenosha Bradford. (Tanner Fields photo)

By Michael S. Hoey


The Badger High School football team let one slip away on Aug. 25 in a 26-21 loss at Kenosha Bradford. The Badgers led for the entire game until the Red Devils scored with 10 seconds left on the clock.

Bradford defeated Wilmot, a team expected to contend for the Southern Lakes Conference title this season, 21-14 the week before, so the Badgers knew they would have their hands full. Bradford proved the Week One win was no fluke by outgaining the Badgers 383 yards to 344, with 200 of those yards rushing against a Badger defense designed to stop the run.

The Badgers almost got a break on the opening kick as the Bradford returner fumbled, but the Red Devils recovered. The Badgers forced a punt and then ran off a 12-play 83-yard drive that ended with a Will Keller one-yard touchdown run to put the Badgers up 7-0. Keller also broke off a 22-yard run that got the Badgers down to the Bradford 14-yard line along the way.

Bradford answered with a five-play touchdown drive. The last three plays were big plays. Marshaun Bell ripped off a 15-yard run, Tony Martin completed a 12-yard pass to Will Darden, and Bell ripped through the middle of the Badger defense for a 28-yard touchdown run. The point-after-attempt was wide left, and Badger maintained a 7-6 lead.

Badger’s second drive resulted in its second touchdown early in the second quarter. The Badgers faced a third-and-nine at their own 48 when Colton Surges hit Dawson Vance with a 14-yard pass that kept the drive alive. Nick Aufmuth later ripped off a 20-yard run that gave the Badgers a first-and-goal at the three-yard line. Two plays later, Surges scored from one yard out to make it 14-6.

Bradford came right back on their next possession. The Red Devils got great field position when the Badgers had to re-kick after an offsides penalty. Bradford ended up starting the drive on their own 48. A reverse to T.Q. Washington for 12 yards started the drive. Bell had another big run of 19 yards. Bradford eventually scored on a 10-yard pass from Martin to Marquon Williams to make it 14-13.

The Badgers’ next drive was stopped on fourth down at the Bradford 32. Surges was stopped short on a fourth-and-one run, and the Red Devils took over on downs. They couldn’t do anything with it, however, and were forced to punt just before the half ended.

Badger got the ball to start the second half and wasted no time making it 21-13 on a 65-yard sweep touchdown run by Keller on the drive’s first play. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Bradford did a good job containing Keller the rest of the night. The Red Devils kicked away from Keller on every kick-off, even kicking one out of bounds rather than letting him return it. Though Keller gained 159 yards rushing, 65 of it came on the one play, and Bradford kept Keller from making any big plays as a receiver. Surges, who had a big game throwing the ball in a Week One win at Greendale, completed just two passes, both to Vance.

As both teams did in the first half, Bradford answered right back despite having a 35-yard kick return by Zamare Evans called back because of a penalty. Evans got his sweet revenge at the end of the drive scoring on a 38-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-one play. Bradford went for two and the tie, but a pass to Jasir Woods fell incomplete and Badger led 21-19.

The Badgers moved the ball into Bradford territory on their next drive before a Surges pass intended for Vance was intercepted. That play was negated by a holding call on Bradford, so the Badgers kept the ball. Badger survived a fourth-and-three at Bradford’s 23-yard line with a 10-yard run by Keller, but Braden O’Laughlin fumbled on the next play, and Bradford recovered at the 11-yard line.

The momentum swung right back to the Badgers on Bradford’s first play from scrimmage. In an attempt to go deep, Martin threw an interception that was hauled in by Aufmuth, and the Badgers were back in business at the Bradford 44. The Badgers failed to get a first down turning the ball over on downs when a fourth-and-five pass was tipped and fell incomplete.

Bradford suffered the same fate going the other way. Facing fourth-and-eight at Badger’s 31-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Martin completed a pass to Trey Glass who was stopped short of the first down. Badger moved the ball to Bradford’s 36 before also turning it over on downs.

After trading punts, Bradford took over at its own 14-yard line and drove the length of the field in 16 plays for the win. Along the way, Bradford converted four third-down attempts including a third-and-10 at Badger’s 27-yard line. Martin’s pass was tipped high in the air but Bell came down with it and gained 15 yards. Facing third-and-six at Badger’s 11-yard line with just 15 seconds left, Bell broke through the middle for a touchdown run that gave Bradford its first lead of the night.

Bradford kicked the ball out of bounds to make sure Keller had no chance to make a big play. Coach Matt Hensler elected to decline the penalty and make Bradford kick again. The kick stayed in bounds but was away from Keller. O’Laughlin returned it 23 yards to the 43-yard line, but the Badgers only had three seconds left to travel 57 yards. A long pass to Keller fell incomplete.

The Badgers gained 344 yards, 317 of them on the ground, but had trouble finishing drives and scoring in the second half. The Badgers did better avoiding penalties this week with just three. Penalties were a bigger problem in the win over Greendale.

Wes Sontag contributed 75 yards rushing on 16 carries to go with Keller’s 159 on 14 carries. Aufmuth added 41 yards on six rushes. Vance caught two passes good for 27 yards.

Bell led Bradford (2-0) with 99 yards rushing. Darden added another 65 and Evans rushed for 38. Martin completed 23 of 35 passes for 183 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Bell was his biggest target with 61 receiving yards. Five different Bradford receivers caught at least four passes each.

The Badgers (1-1) host Waterford (1-1) Friday night to begin conference play. The Wolverines lost their first game to Franklin 55-0 but beat Kenosha Indian Trail 35-0 last week. Franklin defeated Wilmot (0-2) 14-13 last week.


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