Bulldogs play at Waynesville in district opener on Friday.
History repeated itself Friday night for the Rolla High School football squad.
And the Bulldogs are hoping history goes on repeating itself this Friday.
A year ago the Bulldogs were staring at the first winless season in RHS football history before putting it all together in Week 9 and beating the West Plains Zizzers on the road.
Fast-forward to last Friday on RHS Senior Night at Lions Memorial Field. Again the winless Bulldogs were trying to avoid program history against Ozark Conference foe West Plains. And, again, they did just that, knocking off the Zizzers 24-21 in comeback fashion.
Rolla now heads into Missouri Class 5 District 4 competition 1-8 by facing arch-rival Waynesville (3-6) on the road. Kickoff at Waynesville High's new stadium (located behind its high school building) is set for 7 p.m. Five weeks ago Waynesville defeated Rolla at Lions Memorial Field 32-17 in regular-season action.
It is the same scenario RHS found itself in a year ago, when the 1-8 Bulldogs went to Waynesville and avenged an earlier loss with a district victory. That set up a district semifinal game against another OC foe - Lebanon - which the Yellowjackets won handily, ending Rolla's 2012 campaign at 2-9.
And if Rolla can again upend Waynesville in district play a second straight year the Bulldogs will then travel on Wednesday, Nov. 6 to...Lebanon.
Earlier in the week it appeared RHS would be gearing up for a road trip to Sedalia Smith-Cotton this Friday. However, the district rematch was set up by Rolla's first win along with Waynesville's 30-26 upset victory over state-ranked Springfield Hillcrest.
"They've improved a lot," RHS head coach Willie Howard said of Waynesville. "Once they moved (junior Varon) Martinez to quarterback they've been a well-rounded offense.
"We're hoping our kids are excited about (last week's) victory and extending the season. Effort goes a long way and it's finally starting to pay off for us."
Last week Rolla got a 48-yard touchdown run from junior running back Andy Satulla with 6:00 remaining in the fourth period to rally past West Plains.
The Zizzers attempted to regain the lead, taking over their final drive at the Zizzer 48 yardline. West Plains drove into Rolla territory, and a seven-yard pass from junior QB Jacob Mitchell to senior running back Gaige Moss got the ball to the RHS 25 yardline and set up a 4th-and-5 situation.
Next Mitchell rolled left and found senior wideout Jacob Womack with a short pass. The RHS defense dragged Womack down one yard short of the first down, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs with 1:07 left. Rolla was able to run out the clock and gain the win.
Neither team could score until midway through the second period, when special teams took over.
Rolla senior Joe Drallmeier fielded a punt, darted up field, broke several tackles and was gone, 73 yards for a return touchdown.
That lead lasted exactly 12 seconds, as on the ensuing kickoff Zizzer junior Tyler Sands fielded the ball at the 17 yardline and was off, going 83 yards for the touchdown.
On the next kickoff return Rolla senior Ben Maples returned the favor, sprinting 75 yards to the Zizzer 13 yardline. Rolla failed to get a first down and settled for a 21-yard field goal from junior Landon Maynard at the 5:35 mark.
That stood as the halftime score.
However, West Plains took the opening possession of the second half and went 59 yards six plays for the TD. The big play was a 36-yard run by Moss to get to the RHS 18. Four plays later Zizzer junior fullback Matt Wernsing scored the TD on a five-yard run. Moss' PAT kick was blocked, leaving it 13-10.
Rolla regained the lead on its next possession, again triggered by a long run. Satulla broke off a 34-yard run to get into Zizzer territory. Five plays later Satulla bulled over from six yards out for the TD. Satulla then ran in the two-point conversion with 8:14 left in the third period to make it 18-13.
Once again the lead changed hands on the following possession, as West Plains - sparked by a 47-yard Moss run - drove 67 yards on six plays. Wernsing scored his second TD on a three-yard run. Mitchell scored the two-point conversion on a keeper and the Zizzers led 21-18 at the 5:38 mark of the third period.
There would be no more scoring until Satulla's game-winner.
It was Rolla's first home victory since beating Joplin in 2011.
"Our kids felt good about themselves at Hillcrest and built on that (Friday)," Howard said. "It was really a sloppy first half. We couldn't get our blocking schemes down. The second half our offensive linemen did a nice job. (Sophomore QB Kyle Morris) did a nice job of reading the option.
"Drallmeier on the punt return made a lot of people miss. That really sparked us, because we weren't moving the ball at all. And we did a nice job defensively in the pass game and run game."
West Plains had 345 yards of total offense compared to 238 for Rolla.
Satulla rushed for 137 yards to lead the Bulldog attack while Moss paced the Zizzers with 169 rushing yards.