MIDDLETON — With the game hanging in the balance Friday night, Madison West senior quarterback Keishawn Shanklin wanted the football in hands.
“I was keeping it myself the whole way,” he said of the game’s decisive play.
Facing fourth-and-goal at the Middleton 1-yard line and 20 seconds remaining to play, Shanklin and his teammates gathered in the offensive huddle, staring at a four-point deficit.
“In the huddle, I said, ‘This is the last play, you all, we’ve got to push through,’ ” Shanklin said. “And they said, ‘We’ve got you, brother.’ Everybody did the right blocks. Jaden (Stephens) set the edge with his block and I ran it into the end zone.”
Shanklin used a key block by senior running back Stephens and swept around the right side for the 1-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.
That propelled third-seeded Madison West to a 30-27 victory over host and second-seeded Middleton in a WIAA Division 1 second-round game played in 37-degree temperatures at Breitenbach Stadium.
Second-year coach Brad Murphy’s Regents (9-2) avenged a 36-0 loss to Middleton (9-2) on Aug. 31 — in the third week of the season — and advanced to a quarterfinal game next week against top-seeded Sun Prairie.
“It feels so wonderful,” said Shanklin, who rushed for 145 yards and led an offense that used option plays and passes off misdirection that confounded the Cardinals.
Stephens rushed for 91 yards and scored three touchdowns — two on runs and the other on a 26-yard scoring reception from Shanklin.
“Coach Murphy and his staff do a great job,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “They have a couple pretty special athletes and they are able to use them well.”
After Madison West took a 10-7 lead into halftime, the teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Middleton senior running back James Pabst — who wound up with 198 yards rushing on 11 carries — erupted for 80- and 72-yard scoring runs, while Stephens scored on rushes of 11 and 16 yards, the second lifting the Regents to a 23-20 advantage.
Middleton senior running back Dion Huff, after breaking loose on a 39-yard scamper, scored on a 4-yard run with 3:17 remaining, putting Middleton ahead 27-23.
But Madison West then marched 73 yards to halt Middleton’s eight-game winning streak that began with its regular-season victory over the Regents.
Shanklin had a key 8-yard completion to senior fullback Armoni Warfield to the Regents’ 40 on a fourth-and-5 play and he had a 14-yard completion to sophomore receiver Ezra Thompson to the Cardinals’ 6 on the final drive.
“I knew our team could do it,” Madison West senior linebacker David Maravilla said, describing how he felt watching the Regents’ offense on the final drive. “I knew ‘Ke’ could do it and pull us through.”
Middleton had come on strong as the season progressed after dealing with injuries and the death of senior linebacker Shane Bick’s father, Simon said. The return of Jarrett Horst and Logan Thomas from injuries solidified the offensive line and receiver Brogan Brunker made his debut Friday after breaking his wrist in the preseason. But Middleton lost defensive back Cole Ragsdale to a collarbone injury early in the game, Simon said.
“It was a very good football game,” said Simon, who knew the Regents were improved from the first meeting. “We just came out on the short end. All the coaches and players, you never expect it to end, you never want it to end. I’m really proud of the guys the way they handled all the adversity we had, with all the injuries and with what happened to Shane’s dad. The guys handled it with class and character.”
Huff opened the scoring with a 1-yard run on Middleton’s first possession.
But the Regents responded with an 88-yard scoring drive that lasted 6:23. Shanklin connected with Stephens on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 11:46 remaining in the second quarter. Shanklin rolled left, then fired across the field to Stephens, who was open on the right side.
After a defensive stop, Madison West then controlled the ball for 7:10. The Regents wound up taking a 10-7 lead on senior Kacper Lupe’s 35-yard field goal 2:10 before halftime.
Madison West 0 10 13 7 — 30
Middleton 7 0 13 7 — 27
MID — Huff 1 run (Culp kick)
MW — Stephens 26 pass from Shanklin (Kacper Lupe kick)
MW — FG Lupe 35
MID — Pabst 80 run (kick failed)
MW — Stephens 11 run (kick failed)
MID — Pabst 72 run (Pertzborn kick)
MW — Stephens 16 run (Lupe kick)
MID — Huff 4 run (Pertzborn kick)
MW — Shanklin 1 run (Lupe kick)
First downs — MW 16, MID 11. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — MW 55-275, MID 31-297. Passing yards — MW 105, MID 78. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — MW 7-13-0, MID 7-14-0. Fumbles-lost — MW 1-0, MID 1-1. Penalties-yards — MW 6-49, MID 4-58.
Rushing: MW, Shanklin 29-145. MID, Pabst 11-198.
Passing: MW, Shanklin 7-13-0-105. MID, Roquet 7-14-0-78.
Receiving: MW, Stephens 3-61. MID, Carey 1-22.