Cardinals snap Trojans’ three-game winning streak


TCR/Craig Johnson Trojan Triton Meldahl rushed 30 times for 177 yards and had one touchdown catch in the 28-27 loss to Lewiston-Altura last Friday
By: 
Chad Smith

The Rushford-Peterson football team saw its three-game winning streak come to an end when they visited unbeaten Lewiston-Altura on Friday, Sept 27. The Trojans had the lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals came from behind to snatch a 27-28 win on their home field. The loss puts the Trojans record at 3-2 overall (1-1 sub-district).

Trojans’ head coach Davin Thompson said the team controlled a good portion of the game until L-A got their offense going in the fourth quarter. “I think I mentioned last week that the Wing-T offense they run is really tough to prepare for,” Thompson recalled. “Our kids were in the right spots but it’s difficult to mimic that offense in practice with a scout team. They just executed their offense a little better than we did our defense.”

The Trojans led the game 21-14 going into a critical fourth quarter. R-P drove the ball deep into Cardinal territory before a crucial fumble on a quick-pitch gave the ball back to L-A. “We were driving to go up by two scores and all of a sudden, less than two minutes later the game was tied,” Thompson said. “However, we responded well and took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown.

“That brought the emotional roller coaster back to our side. I elected to go for the two-point conversion at that point. We got the ball to Vinnie Mason in the corner of the end zone, but the defender made a great play, getting his hands up in there to knock the ball to the ground.”

Getting the two-point conversion would have meant that L-A would need a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the game. The Trojans led 27-21 at that point. “They put together a nice drive for the final score of the game,” Thompson recalled. “They completed a 45-yard TD pass on a play in which we got sucked up on a run fake. They snuck someone in behind our defense and made the play that won the game.”

The Trojans didn’t give up, driving the ball to the L-A 30-yard line. Malachai Bunke hoisted up a desperation heave into the end zone that the Cardinals picked off to seal the win.

Bunke had his best statistical game of the season, completing 18 of 25 passes for 198 yards, including three touchdowns and a couple of two-point conversion attempts. Kobe Lind was his favorite target, catching six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Justin Ruberg and Triton Meldahl also caught a TD toss.

The Trojans’ ground game added another 201 yards on 41 attempts (4.9 yards per carry). Meldahl was a workhorse, rushing 30 times for 177 yards (5.87 yards per carry). The offense had the ball for 66 plays and tallied up 399 yards of total offense. The Cardinals had 49 plays of their own for 406 yards of offense.

Like most coaches, Thompson isn’t a fan of moral victories. However, he said the team played good football against the unbeaten Cardinals. “It was a pretty quiet bus ride home after the game,” he recalled. “I told them when we got home that we’ll see more good plays than bad when we watch the film. When we did make a mistake, they took advantage.

“We’ll be back to work this week and continue to get better at everything,” he added.

Schedule

The Trojans are back on their home field this Friday, Oct. 4, to face winless Wabasha-Kellogg (0-5) in the annual Homecoming game. However, Thompson said the Falcons are a team you might not want to overlook. “They’ve played Blooming Prairie, Goodhue, Fillmore Central, and Hayfield,” he said. “Those are some of the top teams in our district and section.

“They run an offense similar to what Lewiston-Altura does,” he added. “It’s an older version of the Wing-T that was called the ‘Delaware single wing.’ There will be a lot of shifting, motion, and even more than one person who’ll take snaps from center. They also play stingy defense. Other than the game with Blooming Prairie, they typically don’t give up a lot of points.”