Craig defense stiffens up to stop Parker

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Eric Schmoldt
August 28, 2015

JANESVILLE—Janesville Craig's senior class will never know life without the Monterey Rock.

The Cougars buckled down on defense in the second half of Friday night's game against Janesville Parker to make sure they'd keep the crosstown rivalry trophy for a fourth straight year.

Aristide Serrano ran for 108 yards, and Craig held Parker to just four second-half first downs on the way to a 14-12 Big Eight Conference victory in the rain at Monterey Stadium.

“It's a good feeling,” said Craig senior Peter Larson, who intercepted Parker's last-second heave down the sideline to end the game. “We lost 22 seniors from last year and have had kind of a chip on our shoulder. We came out here as a team, picked it up after halftime and got it done.”

Craig improved to 2-0, while Parker fell to 0-2 and has lost both games by two points.

The Vikings had little trouble moving the ball throughout the first half. They opened the game with a nine-minute drive down to the 2-yard line but coughed up the ball.

Craig responded by going 96 yards the other direction. The 12-play drive was capped by Serrano's 14-yard run that gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

The Vikings answered immediately when Sandy Toyer returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards. DJ Vance, who piled up 127 of his 151 yards in the first half, scored on a 30-yard run on the very first play from scrimmage, but Parker missed the PAT attempt.

After Parker forced a fumble to get the ball in good field position again, Vance found the end zone from 21 yards out, and the Vikings—who went for two and came up short—took a 12-7 lead into the halftime break.

“Our defensive staff did a great job in making a few adjustments at halftime,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “We warned our guys that it's hard to simulate their (the Vikings) speed. I said, 'We don't want to take one or two series to get used to it.'

“But that's exactly what happened to start the game.”

Craig's defense put the clamps on from there. Parker didn't move the sticks in the third quarter and totaled 67 second-half yards—nearly half of them coming in the final minute.

“I'd say it's just a lack of discipline on our part, and we need to figure that out and I take blame for that,” Parker coach Clayton Kreger said. “It was not the best week of practice, and a couple stupid penalties again.

“We say all the time, 'Work together, stay together.' Now the next target in turning this thing around is to finish together.”

Craig put together the second half's lone sustained drive midway through the third quarter, though even that one went for just 38 yards.

On fourth-and-five, Serrano took a toss to the left and scurried 19 yards. Two plays later, on third down, junior quarterback Nick Cramer found sophomore Luke Malmanger over the middle for a 12-yard touchdown.

“These guys grew up playing against each other, and this is a special game for these guys,” McCormick said. “I'm proud of how they fought. They did just enough to get it done.”

And just enough to keep The Rock on the east side of the city.


Janesville Parker 0 12 0 0—12

Janesville Craig 0 7 7 0—14

Scoring: C—Aristide Serrano 14 run (Hozai Ceballos). P—DJ Vance 30 run (kick failed). P—Vance 21 run (try failed). C—Luke Malmanger 12 pass from Nick Cramer (Ceballos kick).

Statistics: First downs—Parker 12, Craig 12. Rushing—Parker 36-168, Craig 38-171. Passing yards—Parker 44, Craig 46. Passes—Parker 13-5-1, Craig 8-3-0. Fumbles—Parker 5-1, Craig 1-1. Penalties—Parker 4-35, Craig 2-20.

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