DETOUR -- Officially, the final contested play from scrimmage in the 8-player district final between Cedarville and Rapid River was ruled an incompletion. What was actually seen depended on your vantage point and your loyalties.
Cedarville senior Todd Hecht, making his first career start at quarterback, hit Kaden Barbeaux on a fourth-down slant route at the Rapid River 3. Barbeaux then went in the end zone, where the ball was knocked loose and Rapid River pounced on it.
"I took five steps!" Barbeaux yelled on the field. "That's a touchdown!"
Peter Pietrangelo photo
Rapid River’s Jake Pearson (7) and Geno Constantino (75) combine to take down Cedarville running back Kaden Barbeaux during the Rockets’ 22-14 win over the Trojans in an 8-player regional football final Friday in DeTour.
The Rockets took a kneel on the next play to upset the state's top-ranked Trojans 22-14 to win their second consecutive regional title.
Said Rockets junior Jake Pearson: "It looked like he had it there for a second, but we came in there and knocked it out."
Said Trojans coach Scott Barr: "I don't even want to replay that last down. It looked to me like it got through, but it will always be in the books as a pass that was short."
Rapid River 14 0 0 8 -- 22
Cedarville 0 6 8 0 -- 14
RR -- Jake Pearson 2 run (Zach Dominique pass from Pearson), 9:22
RR -- Robert Metter 27 pass from Pearson (run failed), 1:55
Ced -- Todd Hecht 56 run (kick failed), 3:59
Ced -- Kaden Barbeaux 70 run (Hecht run), 5:24
RR -- Pearson 7 run (Metter pass from Pearson), 2:51
TEAM STATS: First downs, RR 17, Ced 12. Total yards, RR 320 (30 pass, 290 rush), Ced 324 (7 pass, 317 rush).
INDIVIDUAL STATS: Passing, RR, Pearson 2-7-1-30; Ced, Hecht 2-8-1-7. Rushing, RR, Pearson 35-251, Lucas Bero 14-39; Ced, Hecht 20-188, Barbeaux 15-123, Mike Bailey 1-5, Dylan McDonald 1-1. Receiving, RR, Metter 1-27, Bero 1-3; Ced, McDonald 1-6, Nick Ellis 1-1.
Said Rockets assistant coach Jeff Brunngraeber: "I just saw that we had some good pressure on the quarterback, he stepped up and we had great coverage from the secondary and we had a big play when we needed it."
The Rockets (9-2) will face either Bellaire or Owendale-Gagetown in the state semifinals. The Trojans (10-1) once again failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs in 11 appearances all-time, with four of those coming in unbeaten regular seasons.
After two drives deep in to Trojans territory faltered, the Rockets took a 22-14 lead with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left in the second half on a 7-yard Pearson run that capped off an 11-play, 54-yard drive that chewed up 4:57.
Pearson led the Rockets with 251 yards rushing on 35 carries.
"That was by far the hardest-hitting team we've played so far this year," Pearson said. "It was a physical game, for sure."
With the victory, Rapid River avenged a midseason 70-12 loss to the Trojans.
The Trojans, playing without suspended quarterback Bobby Krackowski and lineman Dylan Badour, reached the Rockets 13 with a fourth-and-4 with 13.2 seconds left when Hecht's pass to Barbeaux was ruled incomplete.
The Rockets took advantage of a Barbeaux fumble on the first play from scrimmage and scored on a 2-yard Pearson run. Robert Metter laid out to haul in a 27-yard TD pass from Pearson in the first quarter to give the Rockets a 14-0 lead.
The Trojans answered with a 56-yard Hecht run in the second and a 70-yard Barbeaux run on the Trojans' only play in the third to tie the game.