Madison La Follette senior Dakovin Prather high-pointed the pass and snatched it from the sky.
The 20-yard diving catch didn’t result in points, but it sealed a 27-20 victory for the Lancers over 10th-ranked Sun Prairie in a Big Eight Conference prep football game Friday night at Lussier Stadium.
Prather’s fourth-quarter leap and ensuing balancing act from air to ground summed up the incredible effort La Follette (5-1, 5-1 Big Eight) displayed all evening in a game that was delayed 93 minutes due to lightning in the area.
“I just knew it was mine,” Prather said of his catch. “I saw he was pressing me ... it’s an automatic go-route, meaning ‘Go get that.’ I had to be a little aggressive.”
With the victory, La Follette earned a WIAA playoff berth.
“We’re just getting started,” La Follette senior quarterback Ben Probst said.
Probst hit senior Charlie Kunkel on a 14-yard touchdown pass to the far corner of the end zone late in the third quarter for the winning score.
“You say ridiculous. I see it every day in practice. Fifty-fifty balls with (Prather) and Charlie Kunkel are 90-10,” Probst said. “They’re unreal.”
But it was some effort in the first half that really turned the tide for the Lancers.
La Follette grabbed a 13-7 halftime lead behind stout defense and all-out effort by senior David Gray.
Already trailing 7-0, La Follette looked doomed with Sun Prairie lining up in a first-and-goal situation from inside the 5 in the second quarter. But Gray intercepted a Brady Stevens pass at the goal line to keep it tight.
Only Gray wasn’t done.
On the next possession, Sun Prairie senior running back Nathan Schauer (116 yards rushing in the first half) darted through the middle and was off to the races in what was about to be a 58-yard touchdown run before being caught from behind and stripped at the 1-yard line by Gray, who also recovered the forced fumble.
On Sun Prairie’s next possession, La Follette junior Kavonte Shorter scooped up a fumbled exchange and returned it 48 yards to make it 7-7 with 2 minutes, 38 seconds left before halftime.
La Follette forced a three-and-out, and then went 60 yards in four plays to take the halftime advantage on a 6-yard rumble by senior running back Jaylend Brown. The drive was set up by a 45-yard quarterback keeper by Probst, who drew a late-hit penalty to boot.
Sun Prairie (4-2, 4-2) had seven first-half penalties for 66 yards and lost two fumbles.
Beforehand, Sun Prairie coach Brian Kaminski was asked how motivated his team was to win a Big Eight title. His answer took the question to the next level.
“It’s always a goal,” Kaminski said. “For us we break it down in three phases. The first goal is getting the fifth win to qualify for the playoffs, and evaluate the Big Eight championship at that point, and hopefully a state championship.”
Sun Prairie 7 0 7 6 — 20
Madison La Follette 0 13 8 6 — 27
SP — Jenkins 29 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick)
MLF — Shorter 48 fumble return (Probst kick)
MLF — Brown 6 run (kick failed)
SP — Gothard 23 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick)
MLF — Kunkel 14 pass from Probst (Brown run)
MLF — Rajkovich 26 pass from Probst (kick failed)
SP — Stone 40 pass from Stevens (kick blocked), 1:10
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