MADISON – In a game that had no shortage of twists and drama, none were needed for Jaxon Janke to end it.
Madison held Sioux Falls Christian scoreless on the first possession of overtime, so the Bulldogs just needed points, any points, to get the win. Quarterback Mitch Hansen found Janke with a short pass to the right on third down, nine yards from the goal line.
Janke had just a man to beat, right in front of him. It was no time for jukes, not even in the realm of possibility.
“Nope, not at all,” Janke said.
So he put his shoulder down and charged in for the score. Madison’s sideline erupted in equal parts joy and relief. The Bulldogs’ 32-26 win on Friday night required a comeback and a couple miracle plays in the second half, but the top-ranked team in class 11A pulled it out.
The Chargers (6-1) outscored Madison 20-7 in the first half as their single and double-wing offense overwhelmed the Bulldogs’ defensive front. Even when the bit-by-bit approach brought up a fourth down, Sioux Falls Christian’s offensive line easily pushed through.
But at halftime, Madison (6-0) head coach Max Hodgen went back to a five-man front on defense, and the Chargers stopped finding as many holes. They punted on the first drive of the second half and Jaden Janke picked off a pass to end the second push.
Furthermore, the Bulldogs started scoring. Brodie Frederiksen ran one in from two yards out on the first drive of the half, and Hansen found Janke on a wheel route for an 87 yard score on the next drive.
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After the interception on the next drive, the Bulldogs got down to the 15 and on fourth and three Hansen had Jaden Janke wide open in the flat to the right, but his pass fell at Janke’s feet. This was Sioux Falls Christian’s sweet spot – a long field to play with and just enough clock to last a possession.
Nothing was so simple in this game, though. Chargers quarterback Sawyer Prins fumbled with four minutes left, and Madison took over on the 22 yard line.
Then Sioux Falls Christian went three-and-out and had to punt. Madison took over on its own 32, and after ten yards, Brodie Fredriksen took a short dump pass that was just meant to move the chains and burst through the line for a 58-yard touchdown run.
That made the score 26-20, and after a failed two-point try, the Chargers had the ball at their own 39 with just 59 seconds to work with. For a double-wing offense predicated on controlling possession and eating up the clock, that’s not an ideal scenario.
“We haven’t been put in this situation, so I didn’t know (how it would play out),” Sioux Falls Christian head coach Jake Pettengill said. “Our kids responded and they made plays.”
But Pettengill’s squad somehow made it work. Prints hit Spencer Koelewyn on a long bomb to the left to get the ball down to the 23, and three plays later, Prins found Jackson Olson to get the ball down to the one.
Prins punched the ball in for a touchdown. The Chargers, who normally go for two points after touchdowns, opted to kick the extra point. And because a game this dramatic demanded it, Madison broke through the line like it was tissue paper and blocked the kick to force overtime.
Sioux Falls Christian went scoreless after taking the ball to start overtime, and that set up the scoring drive for the Bulldogs.
The brutal loss will obviously weigh on the Chargers, but Pettengill takes solace in the fact that his team, maligned by some for its soft schedule, competed the way it did against one of the top teams in Class 11A. Friday’s game might end up being a preview to the state championship game in Vermillion.
“We’re for real, and most of the state didn’t think we were for real until tonight,” Pettengill said.
Friday’s high school scores, schedule