Spartans rally past Rice LakeThe Superior High School football team gave a standing-room-only crowd at Ole Haugsrud Field Friday night its money’s worth with a come-from-behind 27-20 win over the Rice Lake Warriors.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
At Ole Haugsrud Field Friday night, the Superior High School football team gave a standing-room-only crowd its money’s worth with a come-from-behind 27-20 win over the Rice Lake Warriors.
With the homecoming victory, the Spartans improve to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Rivers Conference. Rice Lake falls to 3-2 and 1-2.
Friday’s victory was almost a repeat of last year’s game, when Superior defeated Rice Lake 17-14 on McKenzie Schwarz’s 24-yard field goal with 22.1 seconds remaining.
The Spartans trailed 20-6 early in third quarter before rallying with three unanswered touchdowns, including Nick Mehlum’s game-winning 4-yard touchdown run with 53 seconds remaining. Schwarz kicked the extra point to give Superior the 27-20 lead.
Rice Lake still had a chance when former Spartan Alain Pierre returned the kickoff 35 yards to the 45-yard line.
But Superior’s defense stopped the Warriors at midfield as time ran out. One key play on the final series was Ross Kennelly’s 8-yard quarterback sack.
“This was a huge win, not only for us, but for all of the people that came to the game,” Mehlum said. “We didn’t play that great of a game, but we came out in the second half and played pretty good, especially on defense. Then to punch it in on the game-winning drive, it was pretty exciting.”
Superior outgained Rice Lake 341-326 in total yards. Superior had 227 yards passing, while the Warriors gained 301 of their yards on the ground.
Mehlum was 17-of-27 passing for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Libal was his main target, catching six passes for 122 yards and touchdowns of 38 and 11 yards. On the ground, Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate carried the ball 13 times for 54 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown. Mehlum added 46 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Rice Lake’s Erik Hovde, who took over when starting quarterback Shawn Magee was injured on the Warriors’ second drive of the game, was 2-of-8 passing for 8 yards and rushed the ball for 116 yards on 17 carries. Before getting hurt, Magee was 2-of-2 passing for 17 yards and had 15 yards rushing on four carries.
Tayler Watland carried the load for the Warriors on the ground with 162 yards rushing and touchdown runs of 4 and 13 yards.
Superior’s defense was led by Kennelly’s 12 tackles, which included a sack and fumble recovery. Jesse Polson and Andrew Roske added nine tackles apiece, and Willie Stream had seven tackles.
Rice Lake took a 6-0 lead on Watland’s 4-yard run on its first drive of the game.
Superior tied it up less than three minutes later when Mehlum hooked up with Libal on a slant pass across the middle for a 38-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick was blocked, leaving the score at 6-6 with 4:52 left in the first quarter.
Rice Lake regained a 12-6 lead three minutes into the second quarter on Watland’s 15-yard touchdown and then made it a 20-6 game when Hodve ran in from 35 yards out on the first drive of the second half.
Superior’s rally started with another Mehlum touchdown pass to Libal, this one from 11-yards out. Schwarz kicked the extra point to cut the deficit to 20-13 with 11.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Spartans stopped Rice Lake on fourth down on the second play of the fourth quarter, taking over the ball at the Warriors’ 37.
Seven plays later Wakefield-Zubiate’s 15-yard touchdown run and Schwarz’s extra-point kick tied the game at 20-20 with 7:49 remaining.
Superior’s defense came through again with sacks from Kennelly and Roske, and after a punt, Superior had excellent field position at the Rice Lake 47-yard line.
“Our defense put us in really good position,” Mehlum said. “I seriously thought were going to play for a field goal, but we kept driving, kept getting 9 to 10 yards a carry, got close to the end zone and coach called my number.”
Mehlum’s winning touchdown was a run up the middle on second down. Just after the referees signaled for a touchdown, the ball came loose and Superior covered up near the 5-yard line. After a brief meeting it was ruled a touchdown.
“I jumped in the air and got hit, but I was in,” Mehlum said. “I saw the film and was definitely over the line.”
One key play on the 10-play winning drive was Rice Lake jumping offsides when the Spartans were faced with a fourth down near midfield.
“That was big,” Mehlum said. “I think we still would have completed the pass, but that definitely did help us out. We weren’t trying to draw them offside, they just jumped.”
The Spartans play Eau Claire North at 7 p.m. Friday at Carson Park. The Huskies lost to Hudson 42-20 Friday to fall to 1-4 and 1-2 on the season.
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior stopped Rice Lake three times on fourth-down plays. … Kennelly recovered a fumble on a botched punt return by Rice Lake. … The last time the Spartans were 5-0 was during the 1990 state championship season. Superior was 8-0 in 1990 before losing to Fargo South in the last game of the regular season. … In other BRC action, Eau Claire Memorial defeated Chippewa Falls 42-7 and Menomonie blanked River Falls 38-0.
Rice Lake 6 6 8 0 — 20
Superior 6 0 7 14 — 27
RL—Tayler Watland 4-yard run (pass failed), 7:35.
SHS—Nick Mehlum 38-yard pass to Jake Libal (kick blocked), 4:52.
RL—Watland 15-yard run (run failed), 9:14.
RL—Erik Hovde 35-yard run (Hovde run), 9:17.
SHS—Mehlum 11-yard pass to Libal (McKenzie Schwarz kick), 0:11.
SHS—Aaron Wakefield-Zubiated 15-yard run (Schwarz kick), 7:49.
SHS—Mehlum 4-yard run (Schwarz kick), 0:53.
First downs 13 13
Total Net Yards 326 341
Rushes-yards 46-301 29-114
Passing 25 227
Punt Returns 2-11 1-2
Kickoff Returns 4-77 4-53
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 4-10-0 17-28-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-0 1-0
Punts 2-67 3-93
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-27 8-83
Time of Possession 23:19 24:41
RUSHING— Rice Lake, Tayler Watland 21-162, Erik Hovde 17-116, Shawn Magee 4-15, Alain Pierre 1-(-1), Nick Webber 1-4, Turner Swanson 1-0, Tanner Kleven 1-5. Superior, Aaron Wakefield-Zubiate 13-54, Nick Mehlum 11-46, Jake Libal 3-8, Ross Kennelly 1-2, Grant Hanson 1-4.
PASSING—Rice Lake, Hovde 2-8-8, Magee 2-2-17. Superior, Mehlum 17-27-227. Beau Reder 0-1-0.
RECEIVING—Rice Lake, Noah Pierce 2-17, Aaron Pelle 1-(-7), Jacob Byrley 1-15. Superior, Libal 6-122, Wakefield-Zubiate 3-25, Addison Schwarz 2-22, Tyler Anderson 2-27, Carter Anderson 1-3, Grant Hanson 1-6, Wes Larson 1-9, Adam Amys 1-11.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.
Total Solo Asst
Ross Kennelly 12 12 0
Jesse Polson 9 7 2
Andrew Roske 9 7 2
Will Stream 7 5 2
Beau Reder 7 4 3
Nate Sanders 5 5 0
Morgan Johnson 4 4 0
Garrett Hobson 3 2 1
Matt Little 2 2 0
Sam Freeman 3 1 2
Andy Eisenmann 2 0 2
Alex Dzikonski 3 2 1
Adam Amys 1 1 0
Austin Arnovich 1 0 1
Total 68 52 16
Aaron Pelle 3 3 0
Erik Hovde 1 1 0
Teague Tomeh 2 2 0
Scott Carr 1 1 0
Tyler Fleming 3 3 0
Eric Butler 1 1 0
Adam Schwab 5 5 0
Turner Swanson 6 6 0
Jake Roberts 4 4 0
Cole Sommerfeld 3 2 1
Josh Tyler 1 1 0
Rice Lake 1 1 0
Corwin Deetz 3 3 0
Jake Zoellick 7 7 0
Rice Lake 1 1 0
Dalton Fenske 1 1 0
Total 44 43 1