A big homecoming crowd saw the Rogers Royals unleash a relentless offense, including 407 yards rushing, in a 45-20 win over Monticello on Friday evening.
Rogers linemen Joe Meixell (80) and Andy Mortenson (65) bring down Monticello quarterback Tom Sawatzke after a two-yard gain in the first quarter. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A massive crowd turned out for Homecoming at Rogers on Friday night and the Royals responded with a crowd-pleasing game, scoring in every quarter for a 45-20 conquest of the Monticello Magic.
The Royals (3-2) pounded the ground for 407 yards in 48 rushes, getting big plays from several backs and receivers, including two touchdowns each from Ryan Heyer and Nick Jensen. Heyer led the attack with146 yards in 14 carries whle quarterbackTony Cain hit 8 of 11 passes for 97 yards.
They drew extra energy from the throng that filled the stands and ringed the south end zone.
Ryan Heyer turns to greet teammates aftere scoring on a 26-yard run in the first quarter. Heyer later added a 25-yard scoring run. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
"Oh, yeah. Especially the Blue Crew. They're really loud and get us pumped up," said Cain, referring to a painted and masked contingent of male students.
Crucial to the victory was Rogers' two impressive drives for 10 points in the last five minutes of the half after Monticello tied the game on an interception.
"I was so impressed with how our team responded," said coach Marc Franz. "Our offense drove downfield and scored a touchdown, our defense made a stop, and, as far as an efficient two-minute offense, they drove down again and we got a field goal right before the half. That was huge."
Monticello had stunned them with Jordan Reh's interception and 26-yard return for a touchdown that tied the score 14-14. Cain was trying for a big strike out of the end zone after the Royals were pinned at the five by a punt and a holding penalty on the return. "It was just under-thrown," he sighed later.
Such a turn of events can be deflating, but Rogers bounced back with a 65-yard drive on the ground, capped by Heyer's 26-yard scoring run. The defense quickly forced a punt. The offense had a little more than a minute from midfield. With 12 seconds left, Chris Ellis slashed 11 yards to the Magic six-yard line and Franz sent in freshman Austin Koeppe and the field goal unit. Koeppe (also 6-for-6 on conversions) delivered from 23 yards and the halftime score was 24-14.
Rogers' top ballcarrier Josh Carey opened the scoring with a 41-yard run. After Monticello knotted the score on Tom Sawatzke's 27-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Swanson, Carey struck again with a 46-yard kickoff return.
Moments later, Carey had an apparent 32-yard touchdown run but it was called back for a hold on the 15. No matter. Heyer slashed 26 yards on the next play to the end zone.
Carey had to leave the game in the fourth quarter in pain after a hard tackle. Franz said after the game it appeared he just took a hard shot to the shins and it wasn't serious.
The Royals pulled away as junior halfback Jensen raced 32 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and went deep for a 36-yard scoring pass from Cain in the fourth quarter. Jensen, a hockey star who didn't play football last year, leads the club with seven touchdowns, His first five were short runs.
"The coaches were very happy Nick decided to come back out for football this year," said Franz. "He is one of our best safeties and we play him on offense, too. He's a real football player."
Monticello is just 1-4, but Franz credited the Magic with being "a very physical team" with a hard-charging fullback, good receivers and a resourceful quarterback. Sawatzke also hit Swanson for a 71-yard gain the fourth quarter that set up a two-run scoring run by Derek Pohgechnik.
Rogers 45, Monticello 20
Monticello (1-4) …. 7 7 0 6 — 20
Rogers (3-2) ……… 14 10 7 14 — 45
Rog—Josh Carey 41 run (Austin Koeppe kick)
Mon—Mitchell Swanson 27 pass from Tom Sawatzke (Russell Johnson kick)
Rog—Ryan Heyer 25 run (Koeppe kick)
Mon—Jordan Reh 26 interception return (Johnson kick)
Rog—Heyer 26 touchdown (Koeppe kick)
Rog—Koeppe 23 field goal
Rog—Nick Jensen 32 run (Koeppe kick)
Rog—Jensen 36 pass from Tony Cain (Koeppe kick)
Mon—Derek Poghechnik 2 run (run failed)
Rog—Jimmy Dahlheimer 14 run (Koeppe kick)
Rushing — Heyer 14-146, Carey 9-83, Chris Ellis 7-59, Jensen 4-42,Tyler Petzel 6-41, Dahlheimer 2-16, Caleb Hyde 3-12, Cain 3-8
Passing — Cain 8-1-97-1
Receiving — Jensen 1-35, Joe Meixell 2-24, Carey 2-21, Garrett Lee 2-10, Heyer 1-6
Mississippi 8 Conference
Cambridge-Isanti ………… 4-0 5-0
Becker ……………………. 3-1 4-1
St. Michael-Albertville…. 3-1 3-2
Buffalo ……………………. 2-2 3-2
Rogers ……………………. 2-2 3-2
Big Lake …………………. 1-3 1-4
Princeton ………………… 1-3 1-4
Monticello ………………… 0-4 1-4
Cambridge-Isanti 36, Buffalo 30
Becker 45, Big Lake 16
Rogers 45, Monticello 20
St. Michael-Albertville 46, Princeton 14
Games next Friday
Rogers at Buffalo
Cambridge-Isanti at Princeton
St. Michael-Albertville at Big Lake
Becker at Monticello