Keishawn Shanklin led the way offensively for Madison West on Friday night at Mansfield Stadium, but it was a play the Regents senior made in the defensive backfield that ended up making all the difference.
Shanklin knocked a Ben Probst pass away from the outstretched hands of Anthony West with 1 minute, 31 seconds left in the football game, preserving a 14-7 victory over rival Madison La Follette and helping the host Regents keep pace in the Big Eight Conference race.
“We just had to stick in there,” Shanklin said. “They were killing us with the run in the first half.
“We came out in the second half, stopped the run, and they weren’t able to pass it.”
La Follette (3-2 overall, 3-2 Big Eight) certainly had its chances, leaning on the dual-pronged running attack of senior Jacob Hendrix and junior Kayvion James-Ragland. Both running backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground, but neither was able to find the end zone for a decisive score when it mattered most.
“We didn’t finish in the red zone offensively,” La Follette coach Scott Swanson said. “We got in there a couple times in the first half, a couple times in the second half, (and left) without points. And that hurts.”
The game was scoreless until the closing minutes of the first half, when Shanklin found sophomore Ezra Thompson for a 23-yard touchdown pass 2:12 before halftime.
The Lancers answered right back though, when junior quarterback Ray Broughton hit Anthony West for a 12-yard score with 54 seconds to go.
Whatever momentum La Follette carried into the locker room didn’t last long.
The Regents (4-1, 4-1) opened the second half with a six-play, 65-yard march.
The drive took just a shade under 3 minutes and was finished off by a 25-yard touchdown run from senior fullback Armoni Warfield.
“Starting off the second half, they kind of took it to us on that drive,” Swanson said. “We responded but kind of gave up those points right away.”
The Lancers mustered a couple of impressive drives in the game’s final 24 minutes, driving well into West territory on each before the offense sputtered.
La Follette’s final effort of the night, a 16-play grinder, featured a pair of fourth-down conversions. Then, on fourth-and-6 from the 16-yard line, Shanklin stepped in.
“He tried to run a hitch-and-go,” Shanklin said of Anthony West. “He did the hitch, and when he tried to turn around and do a go, I bumped him. When I bumped him, he went off his route and the quarterback overthrew him kind of.
“When he touched the ball, I just hit him so he wasn’t able to catch it.”
Offensively, Shanklin finished with 92 yards on 15 carries to lead the Regents’ option attack. Jaden Stephens and Warfield added 68 and 62 yards, respectively.
“There’s no doubt, this stuff takes years off your life, I feel like,” West coach Brad Murphy said of the finish. “We’ve got great kids though.
“They just kept battling.”
The win kept the Regents in a tie with Middleton for second place in the conference, but with first-place Sun Prairie still looming on the schedule, Murphy knows this is no time for his team to let up.
“It just starts again on Monday,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to continue to get better.
“We’ve got a long way to go here.”
Madison La Follette 0 7 0 0 — 7
Madison West 0 7 7 0 — 14
MW — Thompson 23 pass from Shanklin (Lupa kick)
ML — West 12 pass from Broughton (kick good)
MW — Warfield 25 run (Lupa kick)
First downs — ML 10, MW 12. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — ML 28-218, MW 35-213. Passing yards — ML 24, MW 23. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — ML 4-10-0, MW 1-2-0. Fumbles-lost — ML 0-0, MW 0-0. Penalties-yards — ML 0-0, MW 6-17.
Rushing: ML, Hendrix 14-106. MW, Shanklin 14-88.
Passing: ML, Broughton 1-5-0-12. MW, Shanklin 1-2-0-23.
Receiving: ML, West 2-13. MW, Thompson 1-23.