By DAVID NEGIN
For the Star Beacon
PERRY TOWNSHIP —
Madison had the wind, the Law, and the depth Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
Throw in several mistakes from a young Perry team, and the Blue Streaks earned the right to keep the Little Brown Jug on their side another year.
With its 34-6 victory over its neighborhood rivals, Madison (2-1 overall) now holds a 43-28-2 series advantage over the Pirates and have now evened the series (3-3) since the rivalry renewed in 2008.
“It means everything,” senior center and three-year starter Kurt Smith said while holding the Brown Jug after the game. “This was the whole year, working toward beating Perry. Three in a row, it is amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Madison coach Tim Willis and his staff can breathe a sigh of exhilaration.
“This, as far as our coaching staff, this is our most stressful game because it means so much to the community,” he said. “That’s what Madison is all about. This means so much more than just a football team. It’s about our community and football family. It’s a lot of pressure, but we love it. That is what football is all about.”
Football is also about establishing field position. Taking advantage of the wind and a couple Perry fumbles in the in the third quarter, Madison was able to break open a 14-6 halftime advantage.
Two straight 3-and-out drives, coupled with punts of just 13 and 18-yards gave Madison field position at the Perry 39-yard line midway through the quarter. Senior quarterback Austin Burkholder (8 of 14, 119 yards), although only able to practice twice during the week, took advantage of the wind and completed a pair of passes, the second was a 5-yard touchdown to junior tight end Jack Holl.
Five minutes later, the Blue Streaks took advantage of another Perry punt (again after another 3-and-out) against the wind of 20 yards, when senior tailback Brandon Davis (24 carries, 131 yards) raced 44 yards for a touchdown to give Madison a 27-6 lead.
“I think it started off at the beginning of the game,” Willis said of the wind. “We got the (opening) kick with the wind. Things were in our favor as far as the wind it seemed like all night. We took advantage of it a couple times. We also were able to make some big plays.”
Madison was also boosted by the addition of sophomore receiver Nick Law, who saw increased action on offense this week after being held out the first two weeks due to injury. Law notched both of Madison’s first half touchdowns (11-yard run and a 25-yard pass from Burkholder).
“Nick Law was a big part of our offense,” Willis said. “He really hadn’t been part of our offense much this year. In a game like this, we have to put all of our players out there. He makes a big impact because now you have two guys (Aaron Petrucelli and Nick) flanked on both sides.”
Perry jumped on the scoreboard first after sophomore Tim Horvath intercepted a pass on a fake punt early in the second quarter. Despite a holding penalty, the Pirates found paydirt six plays later when junior quarterback Ryan Kahoun found senior Kyle Beyer over the middle for 23 yards, giving Perry a 6-0 lead.
But, Perry made too many mistakes. The Pirates fumbled the ball 6 times, losing 2. They also had 9 penalties (98 yards), including seven in the first half, many of them major penalties. One of the penalties (a hold) negated a 80-yard touchdown run by Zakary Hurd after Madison claimed a 7-6 advantage.
“Us not getting that touchdown was a real, real killer,” Perry coach Matt Rosati said. “And then the wind in the third quarter broke our backs. We turned the ball over as well, so we gave them countless opportunities inside our 40-yard line.
“Once we couldn’t get it out of there (Perry territory), it was just a matter of time when they were more physical and put the ball in the end zone. And, they did. Give them credit.”
Despite the loss, Rosati is still encouraged with where his team is at.
“We’re 2-1 and we now play a really good Orange team (next week). I think they are 3-0 now. Our guys are going to have to rebound next week. Offensively, we’re going to have to play a lot better. It just got away from us tonight.
“We’ve done a good job the first two weeks of not making these types of mistakes,” he added. “Unfortunately, we made those tonight.”
It resulted in a Madison celebration afterwards.
“Feels great to get a win for the seniors,” Law said. “That’s all I was rooting for. Everything is for the seniors this year. I don’t do anything for myself, just for the team.
“It means everything. Everybody tells us if we win one game, it’s got to be the Perry game.”
Negin is a freelance writer from Madison.