MADISON — The Badgers of Lake Geneva had never been to a state title game before Friday, but when they did, the Badgers made the most of it.
Badger defeated Waunakee 34-33 Friday in the WIAA Division 2 title game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
With coach Matt Hensler back on the sideline after having a heart attack during the Level 3 game two weeks ago, Badger proved they belonged.
The scoreless first quarter was a defensive battle with both 13-0 teams forcing a turnover on downs deep in each other’s territory.
In the second quarter, an interception on a Badger fourth-down pass led to the first score of the game putting Waunakee up 7-0.
Badger responded however, with a length-of-the-field drive capped off by a JP Doyle 1-yard TD run to tie the game at 7.
Badger scored again with 28 seconds in the quarter on a 20-yard Doyle TD pass to a wide-open Landon Nottestad. A missed PAT put Badger up 13-7.
But Waunakee wasn’t done for the half.
The Warriors scored with 7 seconds in the quarter on a long TD pass to go up 14-13.
Badger opened the second half on offense and proceeded to drive the length of the field taking nearly 10 minutes off the clock.
The drive led to a Matthew O’Grady score on a 6-yard run, although a missed two-point conversion put the Badgers back in the lead at 19-14.
And again, Waunakee responded with a 7-play, 60-yard touchdown drive of their own to retake the lead at 20-19.
Badger showed some big-play power of its own to open the fourth quarter with a Nottestad 40-yard run and an Anthony Richardson 2-point conversion run to go back up 27-20.
As they had all game, however, Waunakee responded in quick fashion, going 70 yards and scoring on a TD pass to tie the game at 27.
The back-and-forth game continued with a 76-yard drive finished with a Doyle walk-in touchdown putting the Badgers back on top 34-27 with 2:19 left in the game.
And once again, Waunakee responded with a score, but a two-point conversion failed, sealing the win for the Badgers at 34-33.