Getting off the field on fourth down proved difficult in the first quarter for the Fort Atkinson Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks appeared to have forced Monroe into a three-and-out on its first drive of the game. Then the Cheesemakers executed a fake punt and scored two plays later.
From there, Fort Atkinson suffered a familiar fate as it was defeated, 41-6, by Monroe in a Badger South football game on Friday at Jones Dairy Farm Stadium.
On the final play of the first quarter, Alex Witt caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Max Golembiewski to convert a 4th-and-6 and to take a 14-0 lead.
“It was a little bit of a gut punch. The kids know it too,” Fort Atkinson coach Brady Grayvold said. “Last year, I don’t know how many times we got them to third down. This year, we got them to third and fourth down and we couldn’t get off of the field.”
That’s the difference between that game being a close game and that game getting to where it ended up.
Monroe running back Trevor Rodebaugh carried the ball 18 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Rodebaugh had a 69-yard touchdown run with 11 minutes, 2 seconds to play in the fourth quarter for the longest play from scrimmage in the game.
Fort Atkinson sophomore Alec Courtier broke a 53-yard run to cut the Monroe lead to 34-6 with 6:00 to play in the third quarter. Courtier had eight carries for 75 yards. Evan Dudzek carried the ball eight times for 50 yards.
“We were moving the ball,” Grayvold said. “But we can’t stop anybody. We had the ball just as much as they did, but we couldn’t get off the field.”
On the first play of the second quarter, Fort Atkinson attempted to find a spark by having running back Trent Hachtel come up throwing after running laterally on a sweep play. The pass fell incomplete.
“I thought it would be fun to run, so we did it,” Grayvold said. “The kids had fun with it, so we did it. People call them gadget plays, but we practice them enough that they’re just like any other play. We have a few of them like that that we can run at different times. I think it gives them something to look forward to and it makes it fun.”
Monroe scored twice in the final 69 seconds of the second quarter to extend its lead to 28-0.
Sophomore Cade Cosson played quarterback for the Blackhawks in relief of injured sophomore Carson Baker. Cosson completed 4 of his 9 passes for 14 yards and threw one interception.
Fort Atkinson senior Mika Gutoski had a game-high nine tackles.
Fort Atkinson converted 10 first downs and Monroe converted 22. The Cheesemakers were 3-for-4 on fourth down.
“We held them to 3-for-9 on third down,” Grayvold said. “They’ve been scoring on everyone, so we were able to slow them down a little bit, but we have to get off the field. It’s the little things.
“A missed tackle here or a miscommunication there — we just have to get off the field.”
The Blackhawks will host Watertown on Friday at 7 p.m.
MONROE 41, FORT ATKINSON 6
Cheesemakers 14 14 6 7 — 41
Blackhawks 0 0 6 0 — 6
M — Bansley 2 run (Rodebaugh kick)
M — Witt 10 pass Golembiewski (Rodebaugh kick)
M — Rodebaugh 9 run (Rodebaugh kick)
M — Rodebaugh 2 run (Rodebaugh kick)
M — Keepers 3 run (kick failed)
FA — Courtier 53 run (Pass failed)
M — Rodebaugh 69 run (Rodebaugh kick)
First down — M 22, FA 10; Rushing (att.-yds.) — M 50-347, FA 28-158;
Passing (comp.-att-int.) — M 4-5-0, FA 4-9-1; Passing yards — M 79, FA 14;
Fumbles-lost — M 3-0, FA 2-2; Penalties-yards — M 4-35, FA 1-5.
Rushing — M Rodebaugh 18-177; FA Courtier 8-75.
Passing — M Golembiewski 4-5-79-1; FA Cosson 4-9-14-0.
Receiving — M Seagreaves 3-69; FA Acosta 2-11.