Muskego - After playing well and building an 18-13 halftime lead over Catholic Memorial on Friday night, Muskego's football team was forced to spend much of the second half watching the Crusaders play keep-away.
Memorial dominated possession in the second half, scoring 22 points and allowing the Warriors precious few opportunities en route to a 35-18 victory.
The loss dropped Muskego to 1-3 in the Classic 8 Conference and 2-3 overall, while Memorial improved to 2-2, 3-2.
"You have to give credit to Catholic Memorial; they (the Crusaders) did a nice job on defense," Muskego head coach Ken Krause said. "They were also able to chew up a lot of the clock in the second half with runs of three, four, five, eight yards. We didn't have the ball much in the second half."
The Crusaders took the early lead on a 16-yard scoring run by Matt Hubley midway through the first period, but the Warriors answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peter Roy to running back Tyler Thomka. The extra point kick was no good, leaving Muskego down 7-6 after one period.
Memorial regained the advantage on a one-yard run by John Clark, then Muskego controlled the remainder of the second quarter and scored twice.
Thomka ran in from eight yards with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left in the half, and Roy tallied from three yards with 1:52 remaining. Both times, the Warriors tried for two points but failed, so they were up 18-13 at the half.
With its ball-control game in full gear, however, Memorial took command in the second half, running 40 plays to Muskego's 15. The Crusaders used three short touchdown runs by Jake Piette, Clark and Hubley to pull away for the victory.
Thomka paced Muskego on the ground with 73 yards in 10 carries, while David Kucharski was held to 32 yards on nine tries and Roy added 16 yards rushing.
Roy completed two-of-five passes for 17 yards, including the touchdown to Thomka.
"Defensively, we stopped them at times, and offensively, we scored three touchdowns in the first half," Krause said. "Roy ran and threw well."
Muskego finished a brutal stretch in which it took on probably the four best programs in the Classic 8 in Hartland Arrowhead, Mukwonago, Waukesha West and Memorial. Those teams have a combined conference record of 12-4 and an overall mark of 14-6 so far this season.
"I am proud of the kids and the coaches," Krause said. "Before the season, I think that most people outside of our program thought West would beat us and didn't think we would be ahead of Memorial at the half.
"We faced arguably the best teams in the conference and improved every week."
The Warriors now take on the lower half of the conference, starting with a game at Waukesha North (0-4, 1-4) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Don't tell Krause that things will be any easier, though.
"There is no game in this conference that you can take easy," he said. "There are no gimmies. These are all good, well-coached teams."
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