The Badger High School defense executes a gang tackle during the Sept. 6 game against Wilmot. The Badgers took down Elkhorn in last week’s game and host Burlington tonight. (Mike Ramczyk photo)

By Tim Wester Jr.

Correspondent

Coming into the season, the goal for Elkhorn High was to earn a playoff berth.

The Elks’ margin of error for achieving their goal grew slimmer after a disappointing 35-13 loss at Lake Geneva Badger Friday, Sept. 13.

Badger took advantage of three Elkhorn turnovers and grabbed a 21-0 first half lead and withheld Elkhorn’s second half charge to hand the Elks their first Southern Lakes Conference loss of the season.

“We lost the momentum early in the game,” Elkhorn coach Tom Lee said. “Obviously the three turnovers in the first half certainly didn’t make anything easier for us.”

The Elks ran into trouble on their first possession when senior quarterback Mason Buelow zipped a pass through tight end Thomas Zimmerman’s hands that bounced into the arms of a diving Badger defensive back Chase Hodkiewicz at midfield.

“We are pretty aggressive in the defensive backfield,” said Lake Geneva Badger coach Matt Hensler, whose team improved to 1-1 in the Southern Lakes Conference. “We like to jump guys and jump routes.”

Six plays later, Badger cashed in on quarterback Grant DuMez’s 1-yard touchdown run, plus a 2-point conversion run to make it 8-0.

Buelow did all he could to match on the ensuing possessions but forced a few throws that led to two more interceptions.

“I’m not quite sure on the cause of some of the interceptions,” Lee said. “We certainly didn’t execute the way we are capable of executing.”

Badger took full advantage with 13 more points in the first half and lead 21-0 at halftime.

“I thought we played their offense well on a couple series forcing punts in the first half,” Lee said. “We made a couple mistakes and the made it hurt.”

The Badgers continued to pound the Elks with their physical running game in the second half, building their lead to 28-0 in the third.

“We have been trying to focus on controlling the ball,” Hensler said. “Takeaways on defense is so huge for us.”

Desperately needing a big play, Elkhorn junior Jacob Rockweiler delivered with a 35-yard interception touchdown return to cut the deficit to 28-7 in the third.

“We went over that coverage on that play in practice the whole week leading into the game,” Rockweiler said. “I just dropped back and saw the quarterback just drop it right to me. I didn’t think they were going to pass the ball much, so I didn’t think I’d get an interception against them.”

Rockweiler and the Elks held Badger to just three total passing yards in the contest. The Badgers, however, did most of their damage in the running game racking up 452 rushing yards. Badger leaned on their running game on their ensuing possession after Rockweiler’s score that was finished off by Carter Lazzaroni’s 1-yard touchdown run. That made it 35-7 Badger late in the third quarter.

“That’s Badger football,” DuMez said. “We like to run the ball and when we get our throws and completions, that’s always nice too.”

The Elks, however, didn’t quit and eventually cut into the deficit on Buelow’s pinpoint 1-yard touchdown fade pass to Jake Mogensen to make it 35-13 midway through the fourth.

Buelow completed 14 of 27 passes for one touchdown and three interceptions. Buelow also led the rushing attack with 32 yards, while Brett Rank had 26.

Despite the rough loss, Lee remains optimistic his team will bounce back in the coming weeks.

“The kids are fine, and we are still in the hunt, “Elkhorn football coach Tom Lee said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs, but we didn’t play our best football in this game.”

Badger hosts Burlington Friday before hitting the road the follow weeks at Westoha Central and Union Grove.

“I thought we had a good response after losing to Wilmot last week,” Hensler said. “We are still making some mistakes, but for the most part we are playing hard.”

See more Badger sports in the Times/Report.

 
 

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