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A 'lot of life' in loss
Monroe's Drew Geissbuhler (left) and Dillon Weckerly (35) bring down Monona Grove's Zach Zweifel in the third quarter of the Cheesemakers' 27-0 loss Friday night.
MONONA - For 28 minutes Friday, Monroe's football team hung tough with the state's third-ranked team.

But in the end, Monona Grove was just too tough.

"They (Monona Grove) are a really good team. Coach (Mike) Stassi runs one of the better programs in the entire state of Wisconsin," Monroe head coach Curt Miller said after the Cheesemakers' 27-0 loss. "We played them tough."

The Silver Eagles averaged 24 points in their first six games, all wins against annual postseason contenders. But the Cheesemakers held them to 13 first-half points that included a pair of field goals.

"It's too bad we weren't able to put any points on the board," Miller said. "But to hold the No. 3 team in the state to 13 points in the first half gave us a lot of life that we haven't seen at halftime lately."

Monona Grove (7-0, 5-0 Badger South) charged 58 yards on its first drive, but Monroe held tough inside its own red zone and kept the Silver Eagles to Logan Twing's 22-yard field goal.

Then, on the first play after Monroe's second three-and-out offensive possession to start the game, Monona Grove quarterback Dylann Rauch hooked up on a 60-yard pass to Zach Zweifel. But running back Ryan Roberts coughed up the ball on the following play.

Monroe failed to make any headway on offense, punting on fourth-and-15 from its own 3. Roberts gave the ball right back, only to have Monroe punt for the fourth time in as many possessions. In the game, the Cheesemakers punted on eight of their 10 possessions.

Monroe quarterback Michael Barrett threw an interception at the Silver Eagle 1-yard line midway through the fourth, and freshman quarterback Alex Barenklau led a three-play drive as time expired.

"Their defense is definitely different. They do everything well," Barrett said. "We played a lot harder because the stakes were higher with MG being ranked in the state. We just couldn't capitalize on offense - especially myself throwing an interception inside the 10. That's unacceptable."

Monona Grove scored its first touchdown in the second quarter, when Rauch hit Zweifel on an out-and-up from 44 yards out. Twing booted a 33-yard field goal to end the first half.

With the temperature dipping below 35 degrees on the field, the Silver Eagles marched 84 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter. As Rauch rolled to his right, Zweifel tripped and fell on an out pattern, only to get up, catch the ball and avoid contact until diving to pylon for his second score.

"We game-planned to stop the run. By doing that, we gave up a little bit in the passing game. Their quarterback is the backup. He didn't start the season, the other kid got injured," Miller said. "We took our chances and were going to let the quarterback beat us if anybody was going to. And he did. He played a phenomenal game."

Monona Grove's final touchdown came with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left to play. On third-and-18 from his own 47, Roberts took a dive up the middle to paydirt.

"We felt like, and people don't always believe me, but we felt like we could do this. We really do. Our kids really believed that we had a game plan to stop that and that we physically could," Miller said.

Monona Grove racked up 486 offensive yards, 239 through the air and 247 on the ground. Monroe only managed 137 yards of offense.

Monroe (1-6, 1-3) will try to pick up its second win in its final home game Friday, Oct. 16, against Stoughton (3-4, 1-3). Stoughton needs to win its final two games, including its last against Monona Grove, to qualify for playoffs. Monroe was officially eliminated Friday.

"Our playoff eligibility is out now, so that's off of our minds. We are playing to be 2-0 at the end of these two weeks," Miller said.