The beauty of Hamilton’s 44-9 win over Middleton on Friday in a WIAA Division 1 Level 1 football playoff game was in its completeness.
On offense, Drew Patterson rushed for three second-half scores and more than 200 yards. The defense intercepted four passes. And Kenny Lo was perfect on three first-half field goal attempts.
Third-seeded Hamilton (7-2) advanced to face second-seeded Verona (8-1), which defeated Oconomowoc 23-13 on Friday.
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It took very little time for the host Chargers to assert superiority over Middleton (5-4). Jake Knueppel snagged an interception on the third play of the game at his own 43.
“That was the most important piece of the game, getting the turnovers,” said Hamilton coach John Damato. “When you’re in a big game like that, it’s a difference maker.”
Three plays after that, Hamilton was in the end zone. Tony Gumina, a senior tight end, outjumped a defender down the right sideline to catch a throw from Mark Gryszkiewicz and then pulled away for the 55-yard score.
Junior defensive back Brett Buehler added a nifty theft on the sidelines deep in Middleton territory later in the first quarter, and senior Kenny Lo kicked the first of three first-half field goals to make it 10-0. Middleton had three yards of offense and two turnovers by this point.
The final interception of the half was on the first play from scrimmage after Hamilton senior Nick Knoebel scored a 10-yard touchdown to make it 17-3. Middleton quarterback Luke Schaefer was hit hard as he threw and senior linebacker Aaron Zagorski cradled the ball to his chest at the Middleton 41. Lo turned that drive into three points from 31 yards, and then closed the half with a 37-yarder to make it 23-3.
Patterson, a junior, added touchdown runs in the second half of 1, 60 and 80 yards and Knueppel made his second interception as Hamilton controlled every aspect.
“It was a good all-around effort, top to bottom,” Damato said. “Offense, defense and special teams.”