With the game on the line, Rockford came up with the play of the day to earn a come from behind 29-26 victory over Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted last Friday in the last regular season home game.
Trailing 26-22 with 4:10 to play in the game, Rockford quarterback Brock Deering turned a third down and 10 yards to go situation into an 82-yard touchdown pass to senior Brody Harstad to lead 29-26.
The Rocket defense took over. On the HLWW kickoff return, Rockford was clipped, the penalty backing the Lakers up to their own 20-yard-line. On second down, Luke Schmitz got a “huge” quarterback sack for a 5-yard loss.
Nick Hall burst into the HLWW backfield on a third down play, setting up the tackle by Jake Clouse. On fourth and 14, a HLWW pass was out of reach as Rockford grabbed the victory.
“I am very excited for our guys, who battled the whole night,” said head coach Dan Houghton. “When the game was on the line, we made plays. Offense, defense and special teams all came up with a big play in the closing minutes.”
Houghton said his players stayed focused and did not get distracted by the game being parent’s night, senior night and youth football night. The coach adds, “If we continue to play like this, we will definitely be a team that other teams won’t want to see come playoff time.”
Rockford opened the game with a 3-yard touchdown run by Tommy Reinking. HLWW took advantage of a Rocket fumble to take an 8-6 lead.
Rockford responded with a 6-yard touchdown run by Deering and a pass from Deering to tight end Andrew VanDehey for a 2-point conversion and 14-8 lead. The Lakers scored on a 70-yard, 13-play drive to tie the game at 14 at halftime.
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted started the second half with a touchdown and 2-point conversion. Rockford took the lead right back on a 14-yard touchdown run by Deering and run by Reinking for the 2-point conversion. The back and forth battle continued when the Lakers and Rockets both scored once more.
Deering was 6 of 8 passing for 127 yards and the big touchdown. He also carried the ball nine times for 43 yards and two scores. Reinking had 26 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown.
Brendon Schumacher led all tacklers with 14, while Schmitz added 10 and Clouse had nine. The Rockets rolled up 311 yards of total offense, limiting the Lakers to 260 yards.
Rockford played undefeated Holdingford Wednesday, after this issue went to press. The section playoffs start Tuesday, Oct. 22. The Rockets are 3-4, tied for third place in the Central Minnesota Conference.