The Rolla football team (4-5) hosted West Plains for their Senior Night on Friday, Oct. 13. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on their first drive of the night and struggled from there on out in a 63-28 loss to the Zizzers.
Rolla got out to a rough start against West Plains when they fumbled on their first offensive possession of the night. West Plains took advantage by cashing in on a 26-yard touchdown by Brayden Lidgard. The Bulldogs then gave the ball right back when RJ Alfred fumbled on the ensuing kickoff. Luckily for Rolla, they were able to get the ball right back when Josh Morris forced a fumble on West Plains' next drive. Unfortunately, the offense still couldn't find an answer to the Zizzer defense and they were forced to punt. Rolla pinned West Plains on the 16, but the defense couldn't slow down the Zizzers. West Plains ripped off several big runs before Lidgard exploded for a 55-yard touchdown. After another Rolla punt, West Plains found the end zone again, this time on a 33-yard run by Lane Jett, and the Bulldogs found themselves in a 21-0 hole.
Rolla was finally able to get on the board as the first quarter ran out. Josh Pritchett launched a bomb to Caleb Turner, who was taken down on the six in the final minute of the quarter for Rolla's first big play of the game. Pritchett then took it into the end zone himself, diving for the goal line to cut the Zizzer lead to 21-7. West Plains saw that touchdown and came right back on their first play on the next possession with a 45-yard run by quarterback Connor Rackley to give the Zizzers a 28-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Rolla found some life with that first touchdown and that continued in the second half. Pritchett was able to get his first passing touchdown of the game when he fired a 42-yard pass to Brett Gonzalez down the middle of the field. The senior wideout made a great over the shoulder catch for a touchdown to bring the score to 28-14. While the offense woke up a bit, Rolla struggled to slow down West Plains and Lindgard scored his third touchdown of the game on the next drive with a 46-yard run to stretch their lead back out to 21. Rolla was stuffed on fourth down on the ensuing drive and the Zizzer offense kept rolling. Lindgard scored three more touchdowns before the end of the half. His first came on a 47-yard run, the second coming on a 41-yard run and the third being through the air on a 42-yard reception as the first half ended, which brought the halftime score to 49-14.
West Plains didn't slow down in the third quarter, as Rackley rushed 65-yards for his second rushing score 33 seconds into the half. Rolla was able to get on the board in response when Pritchett hit Gonzalez for his second TD on a 25-yard score, but it was too little too late. Lindgard scored his sixth and final touchdown at the end of the third quarter on a five-yard run to push their lead to 63-21. The fourth quarter was pretty quiet with the accelerated clock, but Pritchett was able to punch in his second touchdown on the ground with a four-yard run, bringing the final score to 63-28.
Pritchett did what he could to keep the Bulldogs in the game, but he needed a little more help. He rushed for 123 yard and two touchdowns, while passing for 205 yards and two scores. He completed 18 of his 22 passing attempts. Gonzalez led the Rolla receivers with 63 yards and two touchdowns. Blaize Klossner was just a yard behind him through the air, while adding 28 yards on the ground. Turner added two catches for 43 yards, while Tristan O'Neal caught four passes for 31 yards.
As a team, West Plains ran for a staggering 514 yards, averaging 13.3 yards a carry.
Despite the loss, Rolla will still have the chance to host their District opener next week, as they end the season in third place in the District standings. They'll host sixth place Westminster Christian Academy in the first round on Friday, Oct. 20.