LAKE MILLS — There was no stopping Lake Mills senior quarterback Ben Dunkleberger and the L-Cats’ high-powered spread offense Friday night.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Dunkleberger, operating out of the shotgun, used his sprinter’s speed and ran, threw and ran some more in host Lake Mills’ 41-0 victory over the previously undefeated Belleville football team in a Capitol Conference crossover game at Campus Field.
Dunkleberger scored four rushing touchdowns and fired two touchdown strikes as the L-Cats (4-0), sixth in the medium-sized division of The Associated Press state rankings, ran away from Belleville (3-1).
“I’ve never seen anyone like him,” Belleville coach Chase Ritter said about Dunkleberger, the state record-holder in the triple jump in WIAA Division 2. “He’s the fastest kid I’ve seen.”
Not even a power outage of the stadium lights that occurred on the game’s first play from scrimmage and lasted 25 minutes could short circuit the L-Cats.
“Coach (Dan Ferkovich) has been preaching that we needed to put two halves together,” Dunkleberger said. “We wanted to come out hot and play a complete game. … We have been a little slow to get going. Now, we are starting to hit our stride. Props to our defense in shutting them out.”
While it was still light enough outside, Dunkleberger scored on a 42-yard run on the fourth play from scrimmage and tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Hayden Iverson with 5 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first quarter. Then, just after the stadium lights returned, Dunkleberger connected with sophomore receiver Matt Johnson on a 57-yard touchdown pass, giving the L-Cats a 21-0 lead with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
Dunkleberger rushed for two second-quarter touchdowns as Lake Mills opened a 35-0 halftime lead. He raced around left end on a 55-yard touchdown with 5:16 left in the second quarter and scored on a 2-yard sweep again around left end 1:14 before halftime.
“It’s Ben doing what he does best and that is making plays,” Ferkovich said.
Dunkleberger’s fourth rushing touchdown came on a 1-yard run up the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“Dunkleberger is an amazing quarterback,” Ritter said. “That’s what it came down to. And they have really good athletes. We tried to match up. But I have to hand it to their coaching staff. … They are a great coached team.” Ferkovich said Dunkleberger is running the ball more early this season while some of the receivers gain experience in the offense. Dunkleberger, who had 161 of his 167 yards rushing in the first half, now has nine rushing touchdowns and has thrown for 14 touchdowns this season.
He completed 15 of 27 passes for 284 yards. Johnson caught four passes for 144 yards and Iverson had six catches for 66 yards. “It all starts with our offensive line,” Dunkleberger said. “Our offensive line just played really, really well. They had great pass blocking and they opened up some big holes on offense. I was allowed to take advantage of it and make some big runs.”
Belleville, led by junior quarterback Nathan Mabis and freshman running back Sawyer Fahey, moved the ball in the early going. But Belleville had its first drive stall, then came up empty due to a blocked 27-yard field goal attempt. Lake Mills scored on the next drive, taking a 14-0 lead.
“That turned the tide a little bit,” said Ferkovich, whose team faces a Capitol North showdown with Lodi next Friday.
Another Belleville drive into L-Cats territory later in the first quarter ended with a lost fumble at the Lake Mills 39.
“We made a few key mistakes,” Ritter said. “We couldn’t put enough plays together. We just couldn’t put whole series together.”
Belleville 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lake Mills 21 14 0 6 — 41
LM – Dunkleberger 42 run (Mitchell kick)
LM – Iverson 11 pass from Dunkleberger (Mitchell kick)
LM – Johnson 57 pass from Dunkleberger (Mitchell kick)
LM – Dunkleberger 55 run (Mitchell kick)
LM – Dunkleberger 2 run (Mitchell kick)
LM – Dunkleberger 1 run (kick failed)
First downs: B 8, LM 20; Rushing (att., yards): B 33-83, LM 27-200; Passing yards: B 88, LM 284; Passes (comp-att-int): B 8-20-0, LM 15-28-0; Fumbles lost: B 4-1,LM 1-1; Penalties-yards: B 4-32, LM 4-30.
Rushing: B — Fahey 15-66; LM, Dunkleberger 16-167.
Passing: B — Mabis 8-18-0-88; LM, Dunkleberger 15-27-0-284.
Receiving: B — Smith 3-32; LM, Johnson 4-144.