The Rolla football team (2-1) has been electric in 2017 and that didn't stop when they made the trip to Parkview on Friday, Sept. 1. Th Bulldogs scored on the third play of the game and never looked back on their way to a 52-33 win.
The Bulldogs showed a bit of flash on their first drive of the game. After working their way to the Parkview 23-yard line, Josh Pritchett flipped a pass out to Blaize Klossner behind the line of scrimmage. Klossner then unloaded a pass down field to Davis Buhr, who was able to cruise in for an easy touchdown to give Rolla a 7-0 lead.
Parkview worked their way down to the five-yard line on the ensuing drive, but the Bulldogs made a big stop on fourth and three to take the ball back. Pritchett then worked his offense down the field with some great plays with his legs and took advantage of two Parkview penalties before hitting Klossner for a 12 yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 14-0. Parkview managed to work their way down the field again, but they fumbled into the end zone. Blaize Klossner jumped onto the ball to keep Parkview off the board and give the ball back to the Bulldogs with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs would end up giving the ball back to Parkview after Klossner fumbled at the Parkview 19. Rolla bailed Parkview out with a pass interference call against Buhr on a third and nine on their way to a short rushing touchdown by Blake Delacruz. Rolla then responded with a rushing touchdown by Pritchett. The Rolla defense then forced a three and out. Things got a little messy for the Bulldogs on the ensuing drive. They fumbled twice, but recovered both before Jarret Gabriele knocked in a 22 yard field goal to push the lead to 24-6 with 1:25 led in the half. Rolla nearly added a second field goal before the half, but the ball was tipped and Gabriele missed the field goal wide left.
Parkview got the ball to open the second half and ripped a page out of Rolla's playbook. Quarterback Trevor Boice flipped the ball out to Delacruz, who hit Tyrone Newburn on a flea flicker for a 34-yard touchdown. They then converted a two-point play to bring the score to 24-14.
"I'm like 'are you serious,'" said head coach Jon Franks for the copycat play. "They got us back. That's just football. It was a good play, they designed it well and executed and that's what football is execution."
Rolla came back on their next drive and got some more great footwork from Pritchett. The senior QB avoided a sack on third down and got within one yard of a first down at the 32-yard line. Buhr then came in to clean things up on fourth and short for a first down. Rolla had some penalty issues on the drive, but they pushed through. First Pritchett hit Jake Grooms for an 11 yard gain on first and 15 to work their way to the 18. Pritchett then ran for a first down and took advantage of a penalty by Parkview to get a first down on the three-yard line. Pritchett was able to punch in a touchdown on the next play to extend the lead to 31-14.
Parkview went on to nearly return the ensuing kickoff, but were called for a block in the back after a massive return, pulling them back to their six-yard line. Rolla gave the Vikings some more help with penalties after a pass interference and a roughing the passer call, the last of which came on third and long. Boice then hit Gage Clark for a 30 yard touchdown to close the gap to 31-20 after a failed conversion attempt. Rolla seemed poised to add to their lead on the next drive, but a 36 yard pass to Grooms was called back for holding and that led the Bulldogs to eventually punt. Parkview worked their way down to the 10-yard line and the third quarter ended with the Vikings looking to convert on a third and nine.
Parkview instantly scored to open the fourth quarter as Boice hit Clark again for a touchdown, bringing the score to 31-27. After that, it was all Rolla. Penalties again slowed the Bulldogs, but they managed to overcome them thanks to some big passes from Pritchett. First he hit Buhr for an 18 yard pass on second and 17 before a 20 yard pass to Klossner on third and 11. The pass to Klossner put the Bulldogs on the 30-yard line. Rolla jumped for a false start on the next play, but a run by Buhr and a pass to Caleb Turner got them another first down to the 17. Pritchett eventually worked his way into the end zone on an eight yard run to stretch the lead back out to 38-27.
The next Parkview drive was another opportunity for Klossner to shine. Boice tried to throw a pass to the sideline, but Klossner jumped in and narrowly made a tip-toe catch on the sideline for an interception at the 18. Klossner was excited to make the play, but he was more excited to get back on the field to play more offensively.
"I was thinking 'don't cramp up again,'" said the junior utility player. "That's all I'm thinking because I wanna go back out there on offense."
Klossner got the chance to play more on the offensive side of the ball after the pick and he took advantage for an 11 yard run. Pritchett then hit Tristen O'Neal on a fade in the corner for a seven yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 45-27 with 6:45 to play in the game.
Parkview responded with a 52 yard touchdown from Boice to Clark, but Rolla put the final nail in the Vikings' coffin when Buhr punched in a nine yard run for a score with 2:29 left in the game. Parkview tried to work their way down the field, but they ran out of time and Rolla finished off a 52-33 win.
Friday was another fantastic night for Pritchett. The senior quarterback threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns, completing 24 of his 30 attempts. He added another 142 yards and three touchdowns with his legs. He managed to find that success despite the team's issues with penalties. The Bulldogs committed 14 penalties for 150 yards, but Rolla fought through. Pritchett said working through adversity has been one of their focus points this season.
"We've really been working on working through adversity," said Pritchett. "Getting out here and getting those penalties and still completing those first downs is a just a big confidence boost for all of us."
Pritchett got a lot of help from his running backs and receivers, most notably Klossner. The junior is a swiss army knife for the Bulldogs and he proved it again on Friday. Klossner threw a 23 touchdown, caught another on top of 117 receiving yards and rushed for another 35 yards. He also had an interception, a fumble recovery and eight tackles defensively. Klossner loves to play every down he can on both sides of the ball.
"Any time I get to be on the field, I love it," said Klossner after the game. "I have to ask for a few breaks, but I'll do anything to be with my brothers, it's great."
But Klossner wasn't the only standout for the Bulldogs. Buhr rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown to go with 41 receiving yards and a TD. O'Neal caught four passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, while Grooms added another 82 yards on five catches. Defensively, the Morrises led the team in tackles. Colton had 15 tackles, while Josh added another 14. Colton Franks and Ahmed Boubacar each had 12. Rolla had five sacks as a team. Spiro Makridis had two sacks, while Ryan Smith, Isaiah Thompson and Kaberon Burgess each added one.
"Any time you win on the road in the Ozark Conference, it's a good win," said coach Franks. "It definitely gives us the opportunity to learn how to handle success. It's exciting because that's something they haven't had to deal with a lot. These guys are doing a good job. For us, we treat every week the same. A win or when we're not fortunate and we don't win, we put it away and we try to get better. We just keep grinding to the next opponent. These guys are really committed to becoming better football players and that makes us a better football team."
Rolla is now in a big tie for second place in the Ozark Conference, as the conference beats up on each other. There is only one undefeated team remaining in West Plains. Rolla is one of five teams sitting at 2-1. Rolla will face one of those 2-1 teams this week when they make the long trip down to Joplin on Friday, Sept. 8.