Kade Carlson, shown here against Elkhorn, had a game-high 124 receiving yards in Wilmot’s 38-0 shutout of Burlington Friday (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Wilmot shuts out Demons in romp

By Jason Arndt
Editor

Wilmot capitalized on nearly every Burlington turnover Friday, when the Panthers football team hosted the Demons in its homecoming game at Frank Bucci Field.

The Panthers, who entered play tied for second place in Southern Lakes Conference with the Demons, forced six Burlington turnovers to shut down Burlington 38-0 and jumped to 6-2 (5-1 SLC).

Burlington coach Steve Tenhagen said his team struggled to match up with the Panthers’ aggressive defense.

“Turnovers are always a part for a big lopsided game like this,” said Tenhagen, whose team dropped to 6-2 (4-2 SLC). “We just weren’t ready to play, we couldn’t match up with their level of physicality, they came out and played with confidence and we came out flat.”

The confidence started early for the Panthers, who opened on their own 30-yard line, where they began with back-to-back run plays to push the football 12 yards downfield.

From there, senior wide receiver/running back Aaron Gardner connected with senior Kade Carlson on a 55-yard pass on an end around from junior quarterback Zack Watson.

Carlson, who finished with three catches for 124 yards, recalled rehearsing the play during practice and knew he needed to slow down to make the play.

“I knew it was going to be short, at practice, every time we ran this, it came up short,” he said. “But, I was a ready to slow down a little bit and it worked out.”

On the next play, with 10:54 left in the first quarter, senior Austin Norton dashed for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Panthers a 7-0 edge.

On the next possession, Demons junior quarterback Dale Damon, who took control at his own 45-yard line, threw an interception to sophomore linebacker Caden Mulhollon at 8:53 in the first quarter.

The Panthers, who started at their own 37-yard line, produced a scoring drive of more than five minutes, which Norton capped off with an 8-yard run at 3:27.

Watson, who threw a 27-yard pass to Gardner in the drive, completed 5 of 12 passes for 107 yards in his third career start.

“I know I have been able to run the ball the past few games, passing the ball, I was struggling a lot, and I just needed to try to get into the rhythm and it also helped that my running back, Austin Norton, was going off to start the game.”

Norton, meanwhile, finished with 17 carries for 109 yards and three touchdowns.

In the second quarter, with under four minutes left, the Panthers created their third turnover on a Austin Videlka interception.

Panthers coach Keiya Square said Mulhollon and Videlka displayed their ability to read the Demons’ offense.

“Our linebackers did a really good job of getting back in their zones and seeing what was going on and they capitalized,” Square said.

The Panthers, who were forced to punt on the next possession, recovered a fumble on the ensuing return.

In the closing seconds of the first half, the Panthers extended their lead to 17-0, courtesy of a 25-yard Joe Davis field goal.

Panthers extend lead
After the Demons punted to open the second half, Wilmot responded with Norton’s third touchdown, which came on a 35-yard run at 7:17 in the third quarter.

The Panthers extended their lead to 24-0, courtesy of senior defensive back Jaret Ketterhagen’s 33-yard fumble return nearly four minutes later.

On third and three from their own 49-yard line, Damon rolled to the left sideline, where senior defensive lineman Max Iverson stripped the football from him, which Ketterhagen picked up for the score.

Ketterhagen, in the next possession, intercepted a pass from Damon and returned the football to the Burlington 14-yard line.

Ketterhagen acknowledged his team came prepared for the Demons passing game.

“All week, we have been practicing our pass coverage, they have always had a nice passing game,” he said. “They have always scored a bunch of points and our defense planned this all week, so we came out, and we were just on them all game.”

The Panthers eventually capitalized on his interception with a Watson 3-yard touchdown at 11:20 in the fourth quarter.

Watson, who took over for injured senior Zach Lamberson, has shown steady progress as the team’s play-caller, according to Square.

“This week, he made a lot of checks at the line, getting us in and out of the right place and he is coming into his own. The passing game is going to get there,” Square said. “It was good to see that he didn’t have to do it with his legs, he was able to make some passes to get the ball up in the air.”

Demons struggle to move the ball
The Demons, who were held to under 200 total offensive yards, received a team-leading 43 yards rushing yards from Damon and sophomore running back Zach Wallace.

Ketterhagen saw Burlington’s Friday performance as uncharacteristic.

“They are a good team, usually, I don’t know if it was the rain or the crowd that we brought here,” he said.

 
 

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