Muskego - The Classic 8 Conference gauntlet continued for the Muskego football team on Friday night.
Using a staunch running attack and ball control, Mukwonago dropped the Warriors, 27-14, to earn its first victory for new head coach Clay Iverson.
"This feels real good," Iverson said. "We have lots to get better at, but we were ready for this, we were ready to make the next step and we did."
The Indians delivered a solid ground attack that led to a 21-0 halftime lead.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Indians drove to the 27 in eight plays but were denied further action when Gerard Barr stuffed Dan Timmers short of a first down.
On Muskego's possession, Nathan Tanguay sacked Peter Roy for a 10-yard loss on third down, and David Kucharski's punt put the ball on the 27. On the third play, Timmers broke off tackle and dashed 64 yards for the first Mukwonago score with 3:12 left in the first period.
The Warriors mounted what looked to be an answering drive that carried into the second quarter, but Kucharski was drilled and stripped of the ball by Tanguay, who then fell on the fumble. Though failing to take advantage of the turnover, Mukwonago did reach the end zone a series later. A 67-yard drive was capped by a 46-yard sprint to the five by Timmers, followed by his score on the next play.
Using two timeouts after a 12-yard sack by Austin Krueger, the Indians forced a Warrior punt and took over on offense with 4:18 left on the clock. Two runs by Aaron Nixon gained 31 yards, and an 11-yard run by Jason Strickler was enhanced with a 15-yard face-mask penalty. With 51 seconds left in the half, the Indians had moved to third and goal on the 1-yard line, though a keeper by Nixon resulted in a 2-yard loss on a tackle by Kucharski.
Mukwonago then allowed the clock to drain down to two seconds before using the final timeout. A bootleg by Nixon resulted in six points and a 21-0 lead.
Second half starts with score
With the ball to start the second half, Muskego reached out to the 6 foot, 4 inch and 210-pound senior running back Kucharski to get back into the game. Running for 59 of the 68 yards on the 12-play drive, Kucharski bolted into the end zone untouched from 32 yards out to cut the margin to 21-6.
Mukwonago had an answer. After receiving the kick, the Indians moved from the 28 to the 39 where, on first and 10, Nixon found a wide open Matthew McCartan for a 49-yard gain. Nixon covered the final 12 yards on the next play to put the Indians up 27-6 with 5:20 left in the third period.
Dominic Cizauskas' stop of Kucharski on a fourth-down reception short of a first down ended Muskego's next offensive effort. The Warriors' next possession was also stopped, but they did score with 1:10 left in the game on a 78-yard swing pass from Roy to Kucharski.
"I am proud of the kids," Muskego head coach Ken Krause said. "We played well in the second half. They were not giving up and they kept fighting."
Indians dominate on the ground
Of Mukwonago's 390 yards of offense, 314 came on the ground. Timmers led the way with 15 carries for 145 yards, with Nixon adding 101 on 21 carries.
Kucharski, who played offense and defense as well as handling kicking responsibilities, paced the Warriors with 126 yards on 19 carries.
"I never come off the field," Kucharski said wearily after the game.
Appropriately, he was in on the Muskego effort to recover his own onside kick after his long touchdown reception and run.
"Their spacing was just right so I didn't have a chance to get it," Kucharski said.
Muskego (1-2 overall and 0-2 in the Classic 8) next welcomes Waukesha West, which blanked Kettle Moraine, 23-0, on Friday to improve to 2-0 in the conference and 2-1 overall.
"This conference forces you to work harder and focus more," Krause said. "We had a team meeting where we talked about our goals and our focus."
Despite the two losses, Krause remains optimistic.
"I wouldn't trade these kids for anything," he said. "We will get better. Both our offense and defense took steps forward in the second half. Now we want to build on that and take it into the Waukesha West game."
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