Nic Frederick, shown here against Union Grove, had a game-high 125 yards receiving on nine catches in Westosha Central’s loss at Burlington Friday (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

By Mike Ramczyk
sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Somewhere, Don Dalton is looking down with a big smile on his face.

The legendary Burlington football coach, who passed away in the summer, was honored at halftime of Friday night’s Southern Lakes Conference battle with Westosha Central at Don Dalton Stadium.

And just minutes after friends and family honored Dalton at halftime, the Demons exploded for 28 third-quarter points and cruised to a 56-34 victory.

The 56 points are the most in the Steve Tenhagen era, which began in 2014. The Demons previously scored 56 in October 2011.

Burlington snapped a two-game losing streak, improving to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the SLC and keeping its postseason hopes alive. The Demons must win two of their final three games to earn their first playoff berth since 2014.

Westosha (4-2, 2-2), which started the season 4-0 for the first time in 17 years, suddenly finds itself on a two-game losing streak after allowing 98 points the past two games.

Despite committing five turnovers in the first half, Burlington held a 21-19 halftime lead thanks to a pick-six from defensive tackle Ben Golon and a 90-yard interception return from Zeff Jones.

The Demons added another pick-six in the third quarter from Nick Webley, capping a flurry of 28 points in eight minutes to put the game out of reach at 49-19.

Burlington senior quarterback Nick Klug threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another three scores and 131 yards, igniting an offense that put up 440 yards one week after being shut down.

The Demons held the Falcons in check, forcing them to become one-dimensional behind star quarterback Jaden Jackson, who finished with 288 yards and five touchdowns but four interceptions. With starting running backs Niko Lemke and Adam Simmons banged up, Westosha was held to only 37 rushing yards on 1.5 per carry.

“It’s been a tough stretch, and to get a W is obviously good,” said Burlington coach Steve Tenhagen. “To have the lead at halftime with five turnovers is unheard of. Our defense kept us in the game, and we finally came out and played how we’re capable offensively in the third quarter. They caused a lot of pressure in the backfield in the first half, but they wore down in the second half.”

“We made them one-dimensional and were able to get some extra players in coverage. We thought we could create some turnovers, and we came through and did it.”

Westosha Central head coach Tyson Mengel is giving his team the day off Saturday to get away from football. He fears the team has become complacent after a 4-0 start captivated the school and community and brought hope to a football program hungry for a postseason berth.

“I think we’re two equal teams,” said Mengel, whose squad must go 2-1 in the final three games to qualify for the playoffs. “We’re very similar teams, but when you let a team get momentum at halftime when they’re honoring a legendary coach, and you don’t come out in the second half, that’s what’s going to happen to you.”

“The guys were worn down. We weren’t running the ball very well. They scouted us pretty well, and they knew the hitches were there. I don’t know how many drops we had. They didn’t quit, but they’re becoming complacent. 4-0 was exciting. But this is disheartening and deflating. They need to not see us tomorrow. They just need a day away from coaches. We’re still learning how to win.”

Klug dazzles in second half

Klug had little resistance exploiting the fatigued Falcons’ defense in the third quarter.

The 6-foot dual-threat quarterback had his way, hitting Nick Webley for a long pass to set up a short touchdown run to make it 28-19 on the Demons’ first drive.

On the ensuing possession, Jack Hartzell jumped a hitch route and intercepted a Jackson pass. Later, Klug zig-zagged his way through arm tackles into Central territory before scoring again from one yard out to extend the lead to 35-19. On fourth-and-14 from the Central 34, Klug hung in the pocket and hit a crossing Joe Tully to set up the score.

After forcing a Falcon punt, Klug darted his way through tacklers for runs of 40 and 14 yards before hitting Grant Tully perfectly in stride on a crossing route for a 15-yard score and a 42-19 lead. Tully totaled 106 yards, catching two touchdowns and running for one.

On the very next play, Jackson tried another quick hitter to the left, but Webley jumped the route for the pick, cut it down the right sideline and sprinted 38 yards to make it 49-19.

In the first half, with the Demons down 6-0, Jones anticipated a Jackson pass and picked it off before hustling 90 yards to the 1 to set up a Klug touchdown run. Then, senior Kyle Bybee tipped a screen pass and Golon caught it and lumbered 15 yards for the score, giving the Demons a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter.

After Jackson responded with two touchdown passes, Klug hit Grant Tully on a 1-yard scoring pass to give Burlington its halftime lead.

“We made some halftime adjustments, Tenny (Tenhagen) got after us a little bit, we got after each other, we played with some more confidence, and the defense picked each other up,” Golon said.

“We got our confidence back after losing to two tough teams.”

For Jones, it’s about maintaining focus and being disciplined with assignments. He was thinking of six points on his interception. Golon and Jones said the early takeaways sparked the team.

“We were playing our man coverage, knowing Jaden was going to pass a lot. He threw it right to me, and I heard coach yelling score, score. It was happy I was able to get my team in good position.”

Burlington racked up 242 rushing yards. Joe Tully led the Demons in receiving with 74 yards on six catches.

Westosha’s Nic Frederick caught nine balls for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Sam Greco added eight catches for 92 yards and a score.

With Burlington’s dangerous, quick-strike attack clicking on all cylinders, the Demons could be a matchup nightmare moving forward. And with stout run defense and ball-hawking playmakers factoring in, the playoffs are in clear sight for Burlington.

“Absolutely,” said Tenhagen when asked if the playoffs were within reach. “We have three games left, including Delavan next week for their homecoming. We’re going to take one week at a time and try to clean up some mistakes we made tonight.”

Tenhagen, who played for Dalton, said it was a special night.

“It’s well-deserved,” he said. “Coach Dalton has meant so much to not only our high school and our football program but our community. It’s nice we could recognize him and his life in front of our home crowd.”

 
 

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