Cole McCorkle's game-sealing interception preserved a big win for the young Wildcats, giving them a 2-0 start and a tie for the Big 8 lead early in the 2018 season as Verona topped Middleton 27-22 on a rainy, windy Friday night.
It was a wild, wet, back-and-forth Big 8 battle at Verona High School. Verona struck first on a 1-yard touchdown run by Haakon Anderson to make it 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Middleton answered on their very next drive, an 83-yard touchdown romp for Kallion Buckner that got the score within one point, 7-6 Verona. Middleton's next drive took 11 plays, but was capped off by Bryce Carey's one-yard touchdown plunge to give the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 12-7 early in the second quarter.
Middleton would score for a third consecutive drive, getting a 39-yard field goal from Sawyer Pertzborn to extend their lead to 15-7 in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. Verona took over on their own 20 and used 11 plays of their own to get a 10-yard score from Anderson, his second of the game, to get the game within two points at halftime, 15-13.
Verona got the ball to start the third quarter and promptly marched down the field to score to take the lead on a 10-yard Keegan Lindell burst up the middle to go up 21-15 with a successful 2-point conversion try. Middleton had an answer on the very next drive, letting Kallion Buckner rumble for 58 yards on five carries on a drive capped off by a nine-yard touchdown run. A Pertzborn extra point gave the Cardinals a 22-21 lead with 7:03 left in the third quarter.
After the teams traded three-and-outs, Middleton got the ball in great field position at the Verona 35. However, a holding call wiped out most of that field position after the Cardinals got it deep in the red zone, and gave it up to Verona at the Verona 31.
The Wildcats used two big pass plays to Anderson to set up his two-yard touchdown run to give them a 27-22 lead with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter, his third score of the game. Middleton took over with just under five minutes left and all three timeouts at their own 39, but the drive stalled on downs after seven plays to turn it over to Verona.
Middleton got one last shot after using their timeouts to keep the clock stopped, but Cole McCorkle intercepted Bryce Carey to seal the 27-22 win for Verona.
OPG: Haakon Anderson (three rushing touchdowns, 103 receiving yards), Verona and Kallion Buckner (22 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns), Middleton
DPG: Cole McCorkle (game-ending interception)
Scholar Athlete: Dylan Bourne, Verona. "He's like a rocket scientist or something." - Coach Dave Richardson.
Play of the Game: Cole McCorkle's game-sealing pick or Kallion Buckner's 83-yard touchdown sprint
W: Rain, 64