Rockets in state finals
RAPID RIVER — Tyler Sundling picked off a pass at the four-yard line with 45 seconds remaining and Rapid River held on to knock off Cedarville 36-30 here Friday. The win places the Rockets in the eight-player Division 2 state championship game in Marquette next Saturday.
“When I saw the ball in the air I was just thinking catch it,” Sundling said. “It’s a dream come true.”
The Trojans had just converted a 4th-and-five play to put the ball at the Rockets’ 16-yard line.
Sundling admitted to being down for a brief moment when that happened.
“I was so depressed,” he said. “I thought that might have been our chance but I knew we needed an interception there.”
The game-saving interception came right after the Rockets had scored to take the lead with 2:03 remaining in the game.
The Rockets faced a 3rd-and-eight from their own 33. Quarterback Brent Lundquist ran a play-action plass and threw deep to Nate Olson, who made a tough contested catch and maintained his balance to stay in bounds and streak down the sideline for the score.
“I seen him cutting and just threw it under him,” Lundquist said. “He’s fast so I just let him run under it and he made a great play.”
Asked about the final drive, Lundquist admitted it was nerve-wracking.
“I didn’t know if I should watch,” he said. “When I seen Tyler (Sundling) catch it I was so happy.”
It was a wild night, with the two teams going up and down a field covered with roughly four inches of snow.
“We played tough,” Rockets’ coach Steve Ostrenga said. “When you work hard good things happen.”
The Trojans fumbled on the first play of the game and Steven Taylor recovered it for the Rockets. Two plays later, Lundquist found Sundling on a 46-yard touchdown strike to put the Rockets up 6-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Thomas Bohn broke open a 75-yard return for a touchdown for the Trojans to tie the score.
Sundling scored again on a one-yard TD run on the Rockets’ next drive to make it 14-6.
Gunnar Fountain punched in a run from eight yards out on the Trojans’ first possesion of the second quarter to pull within two. Midway through the period, Michael Fairchild blocked a punt that went into the end zone and out of bounds for a safety, tying the game at 14. The score stayed that way going into halftime.
“We had some foolish penalties and turnovers really hurt us,” Trojans’ coach Scott Barr said.
Each team scored once in the third quarter, with the Rockets striking first on a 24-yard TD pass from Lundquist to Olson. The two-point conversion catch by Sam Orth made it 22-14.
Chase Fisher scored late in the third on a 25-yard TD run for the Trojans and the two-point conversion again tied the score at 22.
Cedarville put together another solid drive early in the fourth, punching it on a 25-yard run by Fisher to go up 30-22.
On the ensuing kickoff, Sundling ran to his left and made a man miss on his way for an 80-yard TD return.
Lundquist caught the pass from Olson on the two-point try to knot it back up at 30.
“That play is out of what we call our maroon package,” Ostrenga said. “We tried to spread them (Trojans) out.”
With 1:58 remaining in the game after the Rockets had taken the lead back on the Lundquist pass to Olson, Bohn returned the kickoff to the 47-yard line of the Rockets. The drive ended on Sundling’s interception to end the game.
“It was tough,” Barr said. “That was our quarterback’s (Tristan Masuga) final throw. He underthrew it a little bit and the kid (Sundling) made a great play.”
Asked about the game-winning touchdown pass, Ostrenga was very happy for Lundquist.
“It’s a blessing for Brent,” he said. “We just ran a post corner and (Nate) Olson got open and made an athletic play to maintain his balance.”
Ostrenga was pleased with the efforts of everyone on the team,
“We’re blessed,” he said. “I thought everyone played good tonight. (Sam) Orth did a really nice job on the line for us.”
Lundquist went 8-9 passing for 180 yards and three TDs. Sundling carried 13 times for 30 yards and and caught three passes for 49 yards. He had three TDs — one rushing, one receiving, and one on a kickoff return.
Gunner Larson carried 16 times for 69 yards for the Rockets and Olson caught two passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
Grant Fountain had a very gutsy effort to lead the Trojans, rushing 25 times for 144 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s a special player,” Ostrenga said. “He popped out on film when I watched him and he was really good for them tonight.”
Fisher carried 11 times for 67 yards and a score, while Gunnar Fountain had six carries for 24 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 13 yards.
Masuga finished 3-6 for 28 yards passing.
Rapid River moves on to the state championship at the Superior Dome in Marquette Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Rockets will face the winner of Portland St. Mary and Onekema’s game today.