LAKE MILLS — The Lake Mills football team had a chance to take a 10-point lead to start the second half against Division 2 Menomonie.
The Mustangs instead forced two interceptions in a three-play stretch to kill the L-Cat momentum and scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to win 34-10 in a non-conference game at Campus Field Thursday.
Menomonie made a concerted effort to run the ball, totaling 242 rush yards on 44 attempts.
Lake Mills quarterback Adam Moen finished 18-for-35 with 143 yards and three interceptions. Moen connected with senior wide receiver Hunter Buechel early and often to get the L-Cat attack going.
“They brought heat and we thought they might bring heat,” Lake Mills football coach Dan Ferkovich said. “We knew the middle of the field might be open. We got some looks we thought we would get. (Moen) got the ball out quick. Our receivers ran good routes, broke tackles and made plays. That’s why we do what we do because we have athletes if we can get them in space with the ball, they can make plays and they did that. We knew this was probably going to be a grind it out, every second of the game. Try to keep it close. We were able to do that. They just wore us down ultimately at the end.”
Moen connected with Buechel on a fade route in the back corner of the end zone to give the L-Cats a 10-7 lead with 41 seconds to go before halftime.
On the first drive of the second period, Lake Mills was deep in opposition territory after back-to-back 15-yard penalties by Menomonie. Moen’s first-down pass was intercepted by Jed Ogea who returned it to midfield before fumbling. Lake Mills recovered but, Moen threw into tight coverage two plays later and was picked off by Trevin Kressin. Menomonie scored on its next two drives and had a 20-10 lead starting the fourth quarter.
“A lot of teams we see are going to run the ball,” Ferkovich said. “That’s why we want to play these high-powered teams. This was a good litmus test for us. Just like last year, we wanted to see how we are going to compete on the defensive, offensive side and what are our shortcomings. I think we got a lot of those questions answered. Now we just need to see if can be consistent and do it again next week.”
Moen pounced on a DeVauntaye Parker fumble as Menomonie was driving to give the L-Cats a comeback chance. The junior quarterback was injured on the ensuing series and Lake Mills went three-and-out. A 12-yard punt gave the Mustangs a short field and senior quarterback Tyler Werner punched in an 8-yard score to make it 27-10 with 8:10 remaining.
Lake Mills also had to play lots of snaps without two of its starting inside linebackers in Javanta Beech and Charlie Cassady who were injured.
“When a smaller team suffers injuries like that its hard to come back from,” Ferkovich said. “You just look at the guys who were in and played. You can’t point to any one play, it’s just over time they wore us down with all the guys they had. When you look at how we played with the guys we had, I thought it was fantastic.”
Buechel caught six passes for 44 yards and sophomore Carson Lund had five receptions for 32 yards.
Menomonie managed 20 yards on 1-for-6 passing and Parker scored a pair of touchdowns.
Lake Mills knows they won’t face a much tougher test then this one and that the group is capable of big things down the road.
“Our team is pretty good. If we stick together, we stay healthy and we work hard we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Ferkovich said.
The L-Cats host New Glarus/Monticello on Friday at 7 p.m. at Campus Field in a non-conference game.