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Rockets rally, top Cougars

Todd Rose | Daily Press Rapid River’s Blake Lundquist (11) drops back to pass Friday night against the Superior Central Cougars. Lundquist would connect with Taj Cavanaugh on the play for a touchdown.

RAPID RIVER — Despite trailing by 20 points at two separate points in the second half — and starting the third quarter down by 18 — the Rapid River Rockets (3-6 overall, 2-6 GLEC) staged a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Superior Central Cougars (4-5 overall, 3-4 GLEC) 56-54 at Rapid River’s homecoming game.

“First of all, you know, we always talk all year long — and every year I coach — we talk about 48 minutes of football,” said Rockets coach Steve Ostrenga. “If you give everything you’ve got for 48 minutes, that’s championship football. These guys gave everything they’ve got, and they did, too. Hats off to Superior Central. They gave 48 minutes.”

Several key plays in the fourth quarter propelled the Rockets to the win.

The first came on the opening play of the quarter with Blake Lundquist and Carter Johnson connected for 20 yards to find the end zone.

Rapid followed that up with a fumble recovery by Karson Hardwick on the kickoff.

The ensuing drive was punctuated with another Lundquist-Johnson touchdown, this one for 12 yards, followed by a successful two-point try from Lundquist to Tucker Carlson.

Again, the Rockets recovered a fumble on the kickoff, this time Jonah Frizzell falling on the ball.

Both times, the kicks were not necessarily intended as onside tries by the Rockets, said Ostrenga.

“We had a couple kicks where we weren’t really trying onside, but it worked that way,” he said. “We had fortunate bounces where it looked like the ball might go out of bounds, and we recovered that.”

The go-ahead touchdown came on the ground from 21 yards out courtesy of the legs on Ethan Harrison.

The Rockets’ defense stifled the Zach Frusti led Cougars’ offense on the next drive, forcing another fumble recovered, again, by Hardwick.

“(Zach) Frusti is a heck of a back, hard to tackle,” said Ostrenga. “We were just trying to get guys in the right place in the right place and fortunately went our way.”

Rapid River took over and ran the clock out to secure the win.

Ostrenga — who thanked the Rockets assistant coaches — looked back on the year, and homecoming win, fondly and has hopes for a strong future for the Rapid football program.

“Hopefully, these guys get in the weight room (and) see what it takes to be consistent, and we do that,” he said. “So, I’m tickled pink that we won homecoming, a great game, and the future’s bright if these guys buy into it.”

With the loss, an outside chance at making the postseason slipped away for the Superior Central Cougars.

“(I’m) disappointed,” said Superior Central coach Sam Eggleston. “We had a lot of mental errors and things that should have been automatic for us, we didn’t do correctly.”

Zach Frusti took the ball into the end zone on his feet five times and connected through the air to Wyatt Smith and Lucas Swetich.

“For us putting in an offense based specifically around Zach Frusti, we’d never run anything like it with the read options,” said Eggleston, “I was really proud with the way the boys took it and made it their own.

“On top of that Zach, as a whole, is an outstanding kid, and I really hope a college catches interest in him because he’s that type of athlete.”

Eggleston — who also was high on A.J. Richmond’s performance and ‘heart’ — was complimentary of the Rapid River program.

“Steve runs a great program over here., These kids are fired up, and we didn’t come out at the half as strong as we should have, and they came out with every bit of momentum and energy they needed.”

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