The Rolla football team (4-3) hosted Glendale for Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 29. After a back and forth first half, the Bulldog defense locked down the high flying Falcon offense on their way to a 63-34 win.
Friday night's game started as an absolute shootout. If you showed up just a few minutes late, you would've missed a lot of scoring. Glendale struck first with Alex Huston hit Corbin Lukes for a touchdown just over a two and a half minutes into the game. Rolla punched right back two minutes later when Blaize Klossner ran the ball 15 yards for a touchdown. Glendale came back with a 72-yard touchdown from Huston to Max Nichols less than a minute later to take a 14-7 lead, but Rolla worked their way down the field and Davis Buhr punched in a one-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 with 4:51 left in the first quarter. Glendale scored the final touchdown of the first quarter when Huston hit Lukes again. The Falcons converted for two points after the touchdown to carry a 22-14 lead into the second quarter.
As much scoring as their was in the first quarter, defenses stepped up in the second. After Glendale ended the first quarter with an interception of Josh Pritchett, Rolla opened the second quarter with a forced fumble. Colton Franks knocked the ball out of Huston's hands and the Bulldogs recovered. Rolla scored the only touchdown of the quarter when Klossner punched in a short score. They nearly added a field goal in the final minute of the half, but the attempt missed wide right and the Bulldogs went into the half trailing 22-20.
The second half was all Rolla. The Bulldogs opened up the half with a halfback pass from Klossner to Buhr that went 61 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 28-22 lead just 39 seconds into the third quarter. The Bulldog defense then stepped up on Glendale's next drive. The Falcons pushed down to the two-yard line, but Rolla shut them down on four straight plays to get the ball back. The Bulldogs got some breathing room when Pritchett hit Tristan O'Neal for a 21 yard gain before nearly hitting Klossner for a 49 yard touchdown. Klossner was tripped up at the one , but Pritchett punched it in on the next play to extend the Rolla lead to 34-22.
A few minutes later, Rolla had the ball back and in the red zone all the way down on the three, but they needed some fancy footwork from Pritchett to convert for a score. The senior quarterback slipped away from several defenders in the backfield and as changed direction and worked his way to the left side of the field, he flung a pass into the back corner where he found Caleb Turner for a touchdown.
The final touchdown of the third quarter that pretty much cemented the victory came from the Rolla defense. Ahmed Boubacar and the Rolla secondary really stepped up in the second half, but they really lit things up as the time ran out in the quarter. Boubacar snagged an interception on the Rolla 23 and somehow found room down the very crowded right sideline and scored on a 77-yard return to extend the Rolla lead to 48-22.
Glendale scored one final touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Huston hit Jack Hamlin for an 18-yard strike, but the Rolla scoring explosion wasn't done yet. First Pritchett lobbed a fade to O'Neal for a one-yard touchdown. Boubacar then added to his amazing night when he scooped up a fumble and returned it 58 yards for his second defensive touchdown of the game to put the icing on a 69-34 victory.
"It felt great," said Boubacar of his two defensive touchdowns. "It's something you wish to do on Madden, but you come out and do it in real life."
The two defensive touchdowns were Rolla's first of the season. Head coach Jon Franks likes to see his defense get in on the scoring action.
"That's a first for us. To score on defense is big and to score twice is just awesome," said coach Franks. "That's good for him. There's times where all of our kids go through adversity and it's nice to see when they keep grinding that they'll be able to get a reward on the other side."
Pritchett had another stellar game against Glendale. He passed for 366 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 110 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Klossner did a little bit of everything on Friday night, passing for 103 yards and a touchdown on two attempts and two completions, rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns, while catching nine passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Buhr added another 124 receiving yards, 40 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jake Grooms chipped in with another 108 yards on five catches.
"Really we were just gonna take what we could get," said Klossner of the Rolla offense, "We knew we could put up point, but honestly, I'm at a loss for words. I knew we had it in us, but I didn't know we had 69 points worth."
Klossner was excited to put up that big number of 69 points in front of a massive Homecoming crowd.
"That's crazy, because we had so many alumni coming back down on the sidelines and in the stands and we wanted to put a show on for them," said Klossner. "I'm just happy we've turned this program around."
While the offense will get a lot of well deserved credit in a blowout win, the defense deserves a lot of credit and not just for Boubacar's two touchdowns. Pritchett credits the defense for getting some big stops to help propel offense.
"It all started with our defense getting stops and us getting back on the field," said Pritchett after the game. "We couldn't have done it without them. Our offensive line blocked great tonight, our receivers caught balls, we just played our hearts out."
The defense stepping up made Homecoming one of the most complete games Rolla has played this season. Coach Franks wants to continue seeing his team play a strong four quarters in all three phases of the game.
"Our offense has been there all year, they've had some great numbers and some great output, we just keep talking and when we get to where we play good defense around here, that's going to be the key," said the Rolla head coach. "When we can play four quarters of defense, we're gonna be a really good football team. Tonight, we played four quarters of football on offense, defense and special teams. That's what it should look like all year. Every week is a growing opportunity and process. Hats off to our kids, they continue to embrace the philosophy that we're putting forth and they're getting better."
Next up for the Bulldogs is a trip to Hillcrest on Friday, Oct. 6.