Senior James Pabst ran for three second-half touchdowns Friday night as the Middleton football team wore down host Verona in the second half en route to a 31-10 win in Big Eight Conference play.

Middleton junior Kevin Meicher returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a 7-3 halftime lead.

Pabst scored early in the third quarter to make it 14-3, but senior Carson Bull caught three passes during a Verona scoring drive, including a 2-yard toss from Aaron Young in the back of the end zone that cut Middleton’s lead to 14-10.

But Pabst barreled for two more touchdowns down the stretch, and Middleton scored a safety.

Pabst finished with 137 rushing yards to lead Middleton. Verona’s Bull totaled seven receptions for 91 yards.

The victory, Middleton’s third in a row, kept the Cardinals within one game of unbeaten Big Eight leader Sun Prairie. Verona lost for the second straight week and fell two games off the lead.

Madison Memorial 47, Madison East 0

Jason Ceniti threw three touchdowns to Elliot Grays as the visiting Spartans toppled the Purgolders.

Ceniti finished with four touchdowns through the air and 326 yards. Grays had nine receptions for 134 yards.

Arindas Vasser totaled 80 receiving yards and two scores.

Sun Prairie 41, Beloit Memorial 6

Draven Peeples tallied 93 yards and two touchdowns on four carries, and Kaden Kauppinen caught a 25-yard touchdown pass and returned an interception for a score to lead the visiting Cardinals past the Purple Knights.

Jack Zander threw for 154 yards and a pair of scores for Sun Prairie, which closed the game with 41 unanswered points.

Beloit Memorial’s Matthew Wedig hauled in a 61-yard touchdown reception from Casper Clark.

Janesville Craig 22, Janesville Parker 8

Devin Alderson ran for two touchdowns as the host Cougars totaled 236 yards on the ground to defeat the Vikings.

Ben Coulter threw for 87 yards and added a touchdown run for Janesville Craig.

Kyle Birkett scored the lone touchdown for Parker on a 27-yard run in the third quarter.

The Cougars held Parker to four first downs and 40 yards of offense in the first half.

• Box scores in Scoreboard. B7

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.