MIDDLETON, Wis. — The Madison Mustangs fell to another Racine team Saturday night, as the Threat spoiled home field advantage and came away with a 10 - 7 win.
The weather should have tipped off ‘Stang fans that something wasn’t right about what they would see in the team’s home opener at Otto Breitenbach Stadium. Overcast skies and 50 degree temperatures set the tone for Madison’s second loss this season.
Despite the weather, the game seemed to follow the same storyline as last week: a first quarter where both teams took time to feel each other out, but couldn’t score. After all, the Threat and Mustangs have never faced each other, so adjustments had to be made on the fly.
After a few good plays in the first 15 minutes, more defensive plays were made by the Mustangs when the rain picked up. Cornerback Anthony Younger set the tone by intercepting a pass from DJ Brown. Linebacker Noah Williams frustrated the Threat in a different way, recording two sacks in the first half. However, their efforts couldn’t keep the Threat from taking advantage of turnovers, and it was a 3 - 0 lead for Racine at halftime.
Madison needed to rebound after a poor first half offensively, and it seemed the tides were turning, but a long drive stalled out and kicker Jordan Brown didn’t have the leg to make a 39-yard field goal.
The Mustangs’ woes continued as the Threat was able to run a lot of clock by handing the ball off to running back Greg Sanders. Madison’s defense needed another stop, but a QB sneak on fourth down gave the Threat another opportunity. DJ Brown then laid a perfect pass into the arms of Dee Dee Butler for a 45-yard touchdown.
By the fourth quarter, the Threat held a 10 - 0 advantage and the Mustangs were scrambling for some offense. Pinned on its one-yard line, Madison went to the ground game where Kyle Brodd gave his team the longest rush of the night. However, it wouldn’t come without dramatics. Brodd fumbled the ball on the end of the 45-yard scamper, but wide receiver Reggie Davis fell on it to keep the possession alive. The Racine defense regrouped and forced a turnover, stalling yet another Mustangs drive.
Madison would get the ball back with just over six minutes to play and down by 10. Quarterback David Pietrowiak, coming off a pectoral strain, would have to lead his team down the field through the air. With the ball near midfield, Pietrowiak looked downfield for a receiver, but took a punishing blow from his blind side, causing the football to come loose. Again, a Madison player fell on it to save a potential turnover. Pietrowiak answered, delivering a 40-yard strike to rookie Austin Ryan, who took a helmet-to-helmet hit on the end of the play, but managed to hold onto the ball.
“I realized it was one-on-one. I think Petro realized it too. I knew there was a chance he was going to throw me the ball. I had no idea where the safety was. I thought that was just my guy. I kind of just stopped, jumped up in the air to catch it and start running the other way. And right as I did that, I got popped.”
On the very next play, running back Justin Mashburn took the ball from 11 yards out for the score. Brown’s extra point made it a 10 - 7 game. With 3:30 to play and no timeouts, Mustangs Head Coach Adam Smith put his trust in the defense and forwent the onside kick attempt.
“I talked with the coaching staff, and we decided our defense was playing lights-out,” Smith explained. “...We put the ball in our defense’s hands because they were playing the most consistent; they were playing the best, and they felt they wanted it.”
The Mustangs have now been bested by two Racine football teams in 2013. Madison is on the road next week to face the Wauwatosa Spartans.