Heading into the contest without a win — 0-7 — the Fort Atkinson football team needed a win against a struggling Milton squad (2-5). Instead, the Blackhawks couldn’t add a digit to the win count in a 41-6 loss at home on Friday.
The Red Hawks started the game in control from the first play — a 12-yard run by Nick Huber. Milton rushed down the field — with three more runs over 10 yards. The drive culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Eric Hessenauer to lead 7-0.
Fort Atkinson — playing with seven guys out — started on their own 20. The Blackhawks found gaining yardage difficult, only moving four yards. A dropped snap on the punt, recovered by the Red Hawks, gave Milton great field position at the Blackhawk 23. Hessenauer eventually scored a second time on another 1-yard run to put Milton up 14-0.
The Blackhawk offense gained more traction than their opening drive, collecting 15 yards, but an incomplete pass on third down forced a punt. Back deep to return for the Red Hawks, Jordan Stivarius weaved through the Blackhawks to return the punt for a touchdown 66 yards. A missed extra point put Milton’s lead 20-0 at the end of the first quarter.
With Milton looking to extend their lead even further in the second, the Blackhawk defense caught a break when a low snap by Milton couldn’t be recovered by quarterback Hunter Pernot, instead picked up by Fort’s Keegan Aarstad.
On Milton’s 35-yard line, the Blackhawks capitalized on the turnover off a three-yard run by James Vander Mause, who was filling in for Averey Rohloff. Rohloff was not suited up after suffering an injury during a 49-8 road loss to Monroe. The Blackhawks would go for two, but came away short to trail Milton 20-6.
The Red Hawks retaliated quickly on a 61-yard completion to Dane Nelson for the score from Pernot. The extra point was no good to put Milton up 26-6 at the half.
The Blackhawks continued having trouble holding back the Red Hawk offense throughout the second half. After an interception for Milton by Stivarius to the Fort Atkinson 39-yard line, the Red Hawks eventually connected on a 9-yard pass from Pernot to Masyn Ulrich for the score to lead 33-6.
A 4-yard run by Pernot in the fourth gave Milton a 41-6 lead, the two-point conversion successful from Hessenauer.
Head coach Brady Grayvold said that despite finding difficulty moving the ball, it was some of the largest numbers they’ve seen all year.
“We installed an offense in four days and moved the ball up and down the field,” he said. “For a large part of it, that’s the most yards we’ve had all year. Both our quarterbacks are out, and our third quarterback’s a freshman.”
The Blackhawks trailed Milton both through the air and on the ground. Fort tallied 121 total yards to Milton’s 291. Brent Torrenga ran for 56.
Pernot led the team in rushing with 53 of Milton’s 165 to go with 126 passing yards.
Grayvold said while his team is young, that doesn’t count as an excuse.
“We’re a young team, we’ve got about 40 guys in the program, he said. “Over half can’t drive, so it’s just trying to get the ball in front of us and see if we can make a couple plays. Unfortunately, (Milton) made a couple plays instead.”
Even though it’s been a rough year on the field, Grayvold said he was proud of his players.
“I’m proud of our10 seniors. They’ve led the way, but five of them were out,” he said. “It’s coming. We’ll be all right; big freshman class, big sophomore class. Our juniors and seniors bust tail under center. It’s outstanding for the program. We’re improving.”
Grayvold said that the effort is there for the team to have success.
“We played hard. I think we’re one of the hardest-playing teams, I really do think that. Kids battle hard, no matter the score. They continue to play hard throughout the game no matter the score and I think that’s going to be a testament to the program’s success in the future.”
Fort Atkinson (0-8, 0-6) will close out their season on the road at Stoughton (5-3, 3-3) Friday at 7 p.m. The Vikings have lost three straight games.
MILTON 41, FORT ATKINSON 6
Red Hawks 20 6 7 8 — 41
Blackhawks 0 6 0 0 — 6
M — Hessenauer 1 run (kick good)
M — Hessenauer 1 run (kick good)
M — Stivarius 65 punt return (kick missed)
FA — Vander Mause 3 run (conversion missed)
M — Nelson 61 pass from Pernot (kick missed)
M — Ulrich 9 pass from Pernot (kick good)
M — Pernot 4 run (conversion good)
First downs — M 18, FA 8. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — M 35-173, FA 39-90. Passing yards — M 126, FA 31. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — M 7-11-1, FA 4-8-1. Fumbles-lost — M 1-1, FA 0-0. Penalties-yards — M 2-10, FA 0-0.