The Waunakee football team has been rolling all season.
Unfortunately for the Reedsburg Beavers, they were tasked with stopping that momentum on Friday night and it didn’t go well.
The undefeated Warriors – the state’s highest-scoring team at 54.0 points per game – dominated on the way to handing the Beavers a 43-3 home loss in a Badger North Conference game.
“Their whole offense is tough to defend because they are so balanced between run and pass and they do both very well,” Reedsburg coach Brian Pottinger said of Waunakee.
Reedsburg (1-6, 1-4 Badger North) held Waunakee (7-0, 5-0) to its second-lowest point total of the season, but the game was decided early, as the Warriors took a 43-0 lead into halftime before both teams emptied their benches for much of the second half.
Waunakee received the opening kickoff and started attacking Reedsburg through the air. Nate Carter threw touchdown passes on the Warriors’ first two possessions, connecting with Sawyer Maly for a 25-yard touchdown and Riley Zuhde for a 14-yard touchdown. The Warriors faked the extra point after Zuhde’s touchdown, leaving Waunakee with a 13-0 lead with 4:02 to play in the first quarter.
Reedsburg moved the ball on its next possession, starting with a Mason McMillen kick return to the 35-yard line. Senior quarterback Nathan Kruser came up with a big third-down conversion with a 17-yard run. The Beavers reached the Waunakee 45-yard line before a Kruser pass was intercepted by Jeremy Warner, who returned it to the Reedsburg 20-yard line with 21.4 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The Warriors turned to Ron Dayne. The senior running back took the first handoff 12 yards, then went 8 yards for a touchdown to give Waunakee a 20-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter.
Reedsburg’s ensuing possession ended with a three-and-out, then Waunakee’s L.O. Johnson scored on a 43-yard touchdown run. Reese Marek tacked on the extra point to give the Warriors a 27-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the first half.
After another Reedsburg three-and-out, Waunakee appeared to be threatening again, reaching the 2-yard line before Dayne was stripped and the Beavers recovered the ball at their own 2-yard line.
The Beavers fumbled the very next play and were eventually tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Warriors made it hurt, as Zuhde took the ensuing kick 73 yards for a touchdown to give Waunakee a 36-0 lead with 5:10 to go in the half.
The Warriors had one more big play left, as Carter found Jordan Ranum down the right sideline for a 33-yard touchdown pass to give Waunakee a 43-0 lead with 40.6 seconds to play in the half.
Waunakee took that 43-0 lead into the locker room, then eased off the gas pedal during a second half that featured a running clock.
The Beavers opened the half with their lone scoring drive of the night. Joel Sterkowitz brought the second-half kickoff out to the 35-yard line, then Kruser broke free for a 19-yard run to put the Beavers in Waunakee territory. It was a respectable performance from Sterkowitz, who rushed for 18 yards in his debut game.
“Joel is a solid back up for us right now who stepped in and did a nice job Friday due to some injuries,” Pottinger said. “He’s a tough kid who doesn’t possess a lot of speed, but when he makes a cut and gets north and south he’s going to get some yards.”
With the Beavers eventually facing a fourth-and-7, McMillen kicked a 19-yard field goal to bring the Beavers within 43-3 with 5:10 to play in the third quarter.
Reedsburg finished with 32 rushes for 85 yards, while adding 15 passing yards. Kruser led the Beavers with 45 yards on nine rushing attempts, while completing 2 of 4 passes for 15 yards.
That score held the rest of the way, as Waunakee finished with 370 total yards; 201 on the ground and 169 through the air. Dayne had 13 carries for a game-high 94 yards and a touchdown, while Carter completed 11 of 13 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Hayden Hahn caught two passes for a team-high 15 yards.
Reedsburg enters Homecoming week with a matchup against Portage on Friday. The Beavers notched a 20-14 win at Portage last September.
“Our goal for the next two weeks is to win both games and to do that we’re going to have to limit our mistakes,” Pottinger said.
WAUNAKEE 43, REEDSBURG 3
Waunakee 20 23 0 0 — 43
Reedsburg 0 0 3 0 — 3
W — Nate Carter 25 pass from Sawyer Maly
W — Nate Carter 14 pass from Riley Zuhde
W — Javian Dayne 8 run
W — L.O. Johnson 43 run
W — Team safety
W — Riley Zuhde 73 kickoff return
W — Nate Carter 33 pass from Jordan Ranum
R — FG Mason McMillen 29
First downs — W 15, R 6. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — W 28-201, R 32-85. Passing yards — W 169, R 15. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — W 13-17-0, R 2-5-1. Fumbles-lost — W 1-1, R 3-0. Penalties-yards — W 9-75, R 8-39.
Rushing: W, Dayne 13-94. R, Kruser 9-45. Passing: W, Carter 11-13-0-160. R, Kruser 2-4-1-15. Receiving: W, Maly 3-72. R, Hahn 2-15.