ARLINGTON, Texas — Aaron Rodgers had more magic in store for the Dallas Cowboys, who can’t seem to find the mojo that carried them a year ago.
Rodgers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining, lifting the Packers over Dallas 35-31 on Sunday in another thriller nine months after their divisional playoff win on the same field.
Rodgers capped a 75-yard drive in just 1:02, going toward the same end zone as in the playoff game. In that game, Rodgers’ long completion to Jared Cook on third-and-20 in the final seconds set up Mason Crosby’s winning field goal as time expired in a 34-31 win.
“It comes down to little things being executed perfectly,” Rodgers said after the Packers’ seventh win in eight games in the series. “It was important plays at the most important times by those guys.”
Adams had been in the concussion protocol but was active 10 days after leaving the field on a stretcher on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a suspension for Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan. He had seven catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Dak Prescott, who had touchdown passes on Dallas’ first three drives, put the Cowboys in front on an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining to cap a 17-play drive that lasted almost nine minutes.
But another defensive letdown, just like a year ago in the postseason, left Dallas (2-3) already with the same number of losses from the magical rookie season when Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The Packers (4-1) had gone ahead earlier on Damarius Randall’s 21-yard interception return for a touchdown, the third of five lead changes in the fourth quarter. Green Bay rallied from 15 points down in the first half after letting a 21-3 lead get away in last season’s playoff win.
Aaron Jones became the first Green Bay running back with 100 yards in his first start as a rookie since Samkon Gado in 2005. He had 19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown. He replaced Ty Montgomery, out after breaking some ribs in the win over the Bears.
“He earned the opportunity to start today, and he produced,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Elliott ended a three-game drought without 100 yards, matching the longest from his rookie season, finishing with 116 yards on 29 carries.
Rodgers was 19 of 29 for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and set up the winning score with an 18-yard scramble. After an incompletion to Adams working against rookie Jourdan Lewis, Rodgers went there again. Rodgers made the grab as Lewis turned too late.
“I was going to call a different play, but (Adams) said to call it again,” Rodgers said. “With his eyes, he said, ‘Throw a better ball.’”
Prescott looked the part of Rodgers, scrambling to set up big completions and running 21 yards himself on one play to help the Cowboys build a 21-6 lead.
He was 25 of 36 for 251 yards and three first-half touchdowns, two to Cole Beasley and one to Dez Bryant, who joined Hall of Famer Bob Hayes as the only Dallas receivers with at least 70 TD grabs.
“It’s a tough one,” Prescott said. “You’re frustrated. We knew how important it was for us to get this win and try to go into this bye week 3-2 and now on the flip side it’s just about staying focused, a lot of football left to play.”
WEST SALEM — He grew up in a racing family, probably grabbing a wrench shortly after he took his first few steps. And, those steps, by the way, probably were to his left.
Racing to Johnny Sauter is like breathing to most people, as he lives it, earns a living at it, and carries a passion for it as tightly as Davante Adams holds a football.
So it was no wonder that Sauter, a Necedah, Wis., native, built a Super Late Model race car with the Oktoberfest Race Weekend in mind. In fact, Sauter said he enjoys building race cars as much as winning races in them.
And that’s exactly what Sauter did on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Sauter, driving a once-raced car, dominated the 28-car field — a field that included rising star Ty Majeski of Seymour, Wis. – to win the Oktoberfest 200, the longest race of the 48th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend.
And he did it in impressive fashion as a standing-room only crowd estimated at 4,500 looked on.
“You’ve got to know when to go and when not to go. You got to go initially on restarts and try to get a little distance on them, then when you get the distance to 10-12 car lengths you just start backing up a little bit,” Sauter said of his race strategy.
“It was pretty important today, as my brother, Tim, was spotting at the time and making sure they were giving me lap times, so I could kind of monitor what kind of lead we had and when you get out there and take care of your stuff, and ultimately it shows up later in the run.
“Experience is the key; I wouldn’t trade it.”
Majeski dogged Sauter for the final 166 miles, but was never a threat to pass him. Sauter earned $5,000 for his first official Oktoberfest 200 victory, while the Majeski settled for second and a $2,250 pay day.
Dan Fredrickson of Lakeville, Minn., made a gallant effort to steal second from Majeski, but couldn’t complete several late-race attempts to get by the No. 91. He reluctantly settled for third and $2,000.
In reality, it was the second Oktoberfest 200 that Sauter won, but his 2011 victory was later stripped of him when his car failed a post-race inspection. It got messy that year, as one sanctioning body recognized his win, and another did not.
Sunday, there was no controversy as Sauter dominated the race — leading 166 of the 200 laps — and his car passed post-race inspection.
“I am not really sure, depending on whose record books you look at, I know I won this race in 2011,” Sauter said. “So we got one (officially), this is cool. It is a lot of work and a lot of great people that helped me.
A lot of great people that help me do this stuff, and it is fun.”
Majeski didn’t have nearly as much fun as Sauter. The Roush Fenway Racing developmental driver won the three-segment, JMcL 63 earlier Sunday, and was looking to take home the biggest prize of the water-logged racing weekend.
Majeski moved into the second place on Lap 34, the same lap Sauter took the lead from Jason Weinkauf, and he never lost the second-place spot. He spent much of the race 10 to 12 car lengths — about 2 seconds — behind Sauter, but simply couldn’t make up any ground, even through lap traffic.
“Johnny was just really good. Our car, overall, was pretty good, not too much to complain about,” Majeski said. “He (Sauter) was just a little bit better driving off (the turns). He could get to the throttle a little harder and carry the momentum down the straightaway.
“That was the slight difference, but a lot of times we would trade off lap times. We were closer to the idle part of the race and overall just a touch short.”
While Sauter’s lead was threatened only a brief time on a restart with eight laps to go, it was Fredrickson who made the last-ditch rush at Sauter. On a restart with nine laps to go, Fredrickson chose the outside lane on the grid. It was a decision he said he had to make — more on that in a bit — and it nearly paid off. Fredrickson got alongside Sauter but simply didn’t have the horsepower to stay even with him, or get ahead, as the cars roared out of Turn 2.
“I tried to get by him there. We were a lot better than he was (Majeski). I wanted to get up there and race with (No.) 5 with eight or nine (laps) to go, but he wouldn’t give me any room and I wouldn’t expect him to. It was a great race; I hope the fans liked it. If I get by him early, then get up and race with the 5 some, but we were just not fast enough to clear the deal when he was running the defense,” Fredrickson said.
“I don’t blame him for doing that as I would have done the same thing. It was good short-track racing and raced the (expletive) out of each other and I hope the fans liked it.
The stuff on TV is boring, so somebody has to do something cool.”
And why did Fredrickson roll the dice and take the outside groove? Was he rolling the dice?
“I’ve got a wife to go home to. I was in like third or fourth (place) and I took outside. She would lock the door on me if I didn’t try it out there and try to win,” Fredrickson said.
“I am not really sure, depending on whose record books you look at, I know I won this race in 2011. “So we got one (officially), this is cool. It is a lot of work and a lot of great people that helped me.” Johnny Sauter, who won Sunday’s Oktoferfest 200
LINCOLN, Neb. — When Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011, many envisioned a dynamic football rivalry developing between the Cornhuskers and the University of Wisconsin, a notion that gained steam when the schools were placed in the West Division during the 2014 realignment.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.
Though many of the games between the teams have been closely contested, the rivalry never took off in large part because Nebraska’s program hasn’t been as consistently competitive in the Big Ten as conference officials hoped when the once-proud Cornhuskers program came on board. Seldom have the games had a direct bearing on the division race.
Maybe this year’s game will help. When the 10th-ranked Badgers met the Cornhuskers Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, the teams were finally playing for something. First place in the division was at stake.
OK, so it’s early. Really early. But due to the sorry state of the West so far this season, Wisconsin and Nebraska entered the game as the only undefeated teams in the division.
So, no, this wasn’t just another game. In fact, it was huge. The winner would take a giant step toward securing a spot in the Big Ten championship game. And for Wisconsin, a victory would give it a great chance to head into the late-season portion of its schedule undefeated.
As usual in this series, it wasn’t easy, but Wisconsin kept its self-proclaimed hopes for a national title alive with a huge 38-17 victory over the loaded-for-bear Cornhuskers.
“It’s big,” linebacker Garret Dooley said. “They were 2-0 in Big Ten play and obviously they were in first place. To just come into a great environment like this and be able to handle them and get that win is huge.”
The Badgers set up their future by going back to their past. In the second half, Wisconsin asserted its physical dominance along both lines of scrimmage, something that has earmarked the series since it resumed in 2011. That would have been unthinkable during Nebraska’s glorious past, but the truth is Wisconsin now does to opponents what those 1990s Nebraska teams once did. The Badgers are playing the Cornuskers’ game, only they’re better at it.
After quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw an ill-advised pick-six on Wisconsin’s second possession of the second half, a miscue that allowed Nebraska to tie the game at 17-17, Wisconsin’s power running game took over and the Badgers are now 6-1 against their rivals with five wins in a row since 2011.
Time and again, Johnathan Taylor and Wisconsin’s cadre of tailbacks took the ball and pounded into the line, wearing down Nebraska’s defense. After Hornibrook’s touchdown pass to wide receiver Quintez Cephus capped a 10-play, 93-yard answer to Nebraska’s game-tying score, Wisconsin ran the ball on its final 22 plays, resulting in two more time-consuming touchdown drives.
“I think that was our goal the whole time, just to play our brand of football,” tight end Troy Fumagalli said. “Finally, we wore them down toward the end there. It was a great finish.”
Not to be outdone, Wisconsin’s defense stymied a Nebraska running game that had been effective in the first half. The Cornhuskers rushed for only 9 yards and had a mere 68 yards overall in the second half.
“I think we all realized that if we go out there and play our own game then we’re going to be one of the top defenses in the nation,” Dooley said. “That’s what we’re shooting for and that’s what we were able to do the second half.”
The game figured to be difficult for the Badgers because this time Nebraska was ready for Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers, in a state of disarray after a loss to Northern Illinois, had confidence and momentum after opening the Big Ten with wins over Rutgers and Illinois. They also had a sense of urgency with the Nebraska media calling it the biggest game in coach Mike Riley’s three-year tenure. The Cornhuskers also chose this game to roll out the members of their 1997 team, the last one to win a national title. Finally, the prospect of a night game at Memorial Stadium, where Nebraska has won 20 straight night home games, figured to test Wisconsin’s mettle.
Put it all together and Nebraska, while an afterthought nationally, was good enough to expose the problems that cropped up in Wisconsin’s first four games.
The Badgers have been slow starters offensively in every game and they were again Saturday night. They struggled throughout the opening half and, if not for Taylor’s late 75-yard touchdown run, the offense would have scored only three points before halftime.
Another occasional problem cropped up in the second half. Hornibrook has struggled with accuracy when he to reset his feet and find receivers late. It happened again on his pick-six, though Hornibrook rebounded nicely.
It was all Wisconsin after that, though, and now the Badgers face Big Ten lightweights Purdue, Maryland, Illinois and Indiana in their next four games. That’s why this one is so important. They could go into their final stretch — Iowa, Michigan, at Minnesota — with a 9-0 overall record and a 6-0 Big Ten mark.
“It’s huge for the development of this season,” Fumagalli said. “Just having that adversity strike us this early and being able to respond to it, I think it’s huge. We’ll take that with us and move forward, knowing we can do that in any scenario.”
The Badgers are going to have to play better than they have in the first five games, but they’re still right where they need to be.
WEST SALEM — Ty Majeski knows where he cut his racing teeth and he won’t soon, if ever, forget it.
That is exactly why the rising star from Seymour, Wis., continues to race in the Late Model, Super Late Model and ARCA Midwest Tour events at the Oktoberfest Race Weekend.
Majeski, a developmental driver in the Roush Fenway Racing stable, could focus his efforts on the Midwest ARCA Tour, where he won his fourth consecutive season championship this year. Instead, he continues to do what he loves — race — in multiple divisions.
“I pay my dues back. Gregg (McKarns) has done a lot for short-track racing. And I am paying back, so-to-speak, and coming back and support him and his Dad’s race,” Majeski said.
“We will continue to run it as long as I can.”
So when Majeski won the three-part, 63-lap race named after the late John McKarns — the JMcK 63 Big 8 Invitational — Sunday afternoon during the final day of the 48th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend, he was happy to give an estimated 4,500 fans at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway something to talk about.
Majeski won the first 21-lap segment, finished second to Beloit’s Johnny Baumeister Jr. in the second stage, then turned in another runner-up performance in the third part to easily win the popular event with five points.
That was well ahead of second-place overall finisher Brody Willett, who had 13 points on finishes of second, fifth and sixth. Zach Riddle was third with 15 points on finishes of third, seventh and fifth.
Reynolds, who was fifth with 18 points, was elated to win a segment of the event.
“It wasn’t too good in the first two races, but we fixed it there for the third one and it stayed the same there for 21 laps,” Reynolds said of his car.
“It is a big win. Gregg McKarns (Motorsports Management Services president) and I have grown up racing. I raced for him for a long time and still do at Madison, but I always wanted to win a Late Model Series event here.
“It was a big deal for me to try and get up here and win one of these JMcK things. I am pretty proud we finally did. I was shaking pretty good (on the last lap).”
GILSTER WINS MID-AMERICAN: Danny Gilster, a former multi-time track champion in the Sportsmen Division at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, still knows the Fairgrounds Speedway track quite well, as he won the 30-lap Mid-American Okoberfest feature.
Gilster beat Ryan Gutknecht across the line by 0.475 seconds, while Ron Vandermeier Jr. was third in the 18-car field.
The win was extra special for Gilster, as he also captured the season championship.
VINTAGE OKTO FEATURE: Woody Pool of Tinley Park, Ill., powered his red and black No. 2 to victory in the Vintage Oktoberfest 15. It was the third consecutive victory for Pool in the event.
Ken Hutchins, of Black River Falls, a former longtime driver at the Fairgrounds Speedway, was second. Dan Navrestad of La Crosse was third.
ARCA MIDWEST TOUR QUALIFYING: Johnny Sauter, who has had a strong Camping World Truck Series season, turned in the fastest lap in the 36-driver ARCA Midwest Tour qualifying session Sunday morning.
Sauter, a Necedah, Wis., native, stopped the clock at 18.675 seconds, or an average speed of 120.482 mph. Sauter, who is currently fourth in the Truck Series standings, just three points out of third and fifth out of second, has two wins in the national series this season.
Sauter’s time was just a tick ahead of Bangor’s Skylar Holzhausen, whose time of 18.680 (120.450 mph). Ty Majkeski, who won the race last year, qualified ninth with a time of 18.948 mph (118.74 mph).
MAJESKI WINS BIG 8: Seymour, Wis., driver Ty Majeski, a developmental driver in the Roush Fenway Racing stable, won the 68-lap Big 8 Okoberfest Feature late Saturday night. After three days of steady, even heavy rain, Fairgrounds Speedway officials were finally able to run a race about 9 p.m. Saturday. Majeski, to no one’s surprise, was ready.
Majeski, who was the fast qualifier for the event, started in the 13th spot and have powered his way into the top 10 by Lap 6. He continued his march to the front, passing is way into the top five on Lap 17. On Lap 32, he moved into third, then took second place away from Derek Lemke on Lap 33. On Lap 38, he took over the lead from Brody Willett, then cruised to a 5.8-second victory in the caution-free race.
CAR COUNT: Despite heavy rain that washed out all of Thursday’s and Friday’s action and some of Saturday, a total of 467 cars registered for the 48th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend. That is 23 less than in 2016, when all of the races that were scheduled were actually run.