Offense were on full display when the Rolla football team (4-4) made the way down to Hillcrest for their final road contest of the regular season on Friday, Oct. 6. The lead traded hands three times in the final four minutes of the game, but Hillcrest made the last big play on an interception in the end zone with no time left on the clock to seal a 38-34 victory over the Bulldogs.
Rolla got off to a hot start on Friday night, scoring the first two touchdowns of the game. First Josh Pritchett hit Blaize Klossner for a five yard score in the first quarter for the only points of the opening frame Pritchett ran in a two point conversion for an early 8-0 lead. The senior quarterback was then able to find Jake Grooms on a 30 yard strike, extending their lead to 14-0 despite a missed PAT.
Hillcrest responded with their first touchdown of the game when Josh Powell ran for a 17 yard touchdown, but Rolla wasn't done with their first half offense. Klossner punched in his second touchdown of the game, this time on a three yard run late in the second quarter. Hillcrest responded with a 33-yard touchdown from Haden Parton to Dion Davis. Even with the late touchdown by Hillcrest, Rolla carried a 21-16 lead into the half.
After halftime, it was an all-around shootout. The lead changed hands five times in the second half and it started with Hillcrest taking the lead early in the third quarter. Sam Cochran made a 44 yard catch for the Hornets to set up a 17-yard rushing touchdown by Malik Starks, putting Hillcrest in front 24-21 for their first lead of the contest. The lead went back to the Bulldogs before the quarter ended when Pritchett found Klossner again for an easy 35-yard touchdown, putting Rolla back out in front 28-24 midway through the quarter. The third quarter ended with Rolla holding on to that four point lead, but the Bulldogs and Hornets were gearing up for wild fourth quarter.
The teams were scoreless for the first 11 minutes of the fourth quarter, but Hillcrest was threatening with a fourth and five from the eight. Rolla needed one more big play, but the Hornets dug into their playbook and came out with a halfback pass and Davis found Tim Washington for an eight-yard touchdown to give Hillcrest a 32-28 lead. Rolla came back with a nine-yard touchdown run by Pritchett. The point after attempt was blocked, but Rolla still had a 34-32 lead with just over a minute left on the clock.
A minute was more than enough time for Hillcrest. Rolla dropped deep to prevent a touchdown as Hillcrest set up for a play from the 31-yard line. Hillcrest took advantage by running a screen to Powell, who took it to the house to put the Hornets ahead 38-34 with 22 seconds left on the clock. Rolla still had some hope, as a an interception in the end zone as time expired was called off for pass interference. That gave the Bulldogs one play from the 15, but Pritchett's final pass was intercepted by Starks and Hillcrest finished off a 38-34 win over the Bulldogs.
The interception was Pritchett's second of the game, but he still had another stellar performance. The senior quarterback passed for 252 yards and three touchdowns to go with 131 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Klossner was Pritchett's top target all night long, which was to be expected with Davis Buhr out for the remainder of the season with a leg injury. Klossner caught 12 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, while running for another 44 yards and a touchdown. Grooms added 58 yards through the air and a touchdown.
Defensively, Isaiah Thompson led the Bulldogs with 13 tackles and two sacks. Colton Franks added 11 more tackles, while Brett Gonzalez chipped in with two more sacks. Klossner snagged an interception for Rolla's only forced turnover, while tallying eight tackles.
Rolla will wrap up their regular season next week when they host West Plains for Senior Night on Friday, Oct. 16.