Superior runs past River Falls

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Leading the celebration was an offensive line that helped the Spartans pile up 377 yards on offense, including 318 rushing.

The biggest beneficiary of the line’s success was senior running back Zach Tharge, who rushed for 57 yards on seven carries and was practically untouched on touchdown runs of 12, 4 and 27 yards.

“Our offensive line and our running backs really stepped up, and when we decide we want to block, no one can stop us,” Tharge said. “All I had to do was run the ball because of the fantastic blocking by my teammates.”

Corey Sanders led the Spartans with 105 yards rushing and also went untouched on a 54-yard touchdown. Gunnar Gronski added 93 yards on 12 carries.

All but 5 of Sanders’ yards came in the first half, while all of Gronski’s yards came in the second half. On Gronski’s three carries in the first half, he was stopped for no gain, lost a yard and gained a yard.

“In the first half they did a nice job of taking things away between the tackles, but we were able to get some things on the perimeter,” DeMeyer said. “They kind of did the opposite in the second half and we had some success up the middle. We got some good hard running by Gronk (Gunnar Gronski) and the guys on the edge blocked well.

“Now it’s just a matter of being more consistent, because we’re capable of doing good things on every drive.”

The Spartans also got a big game from senior Sam Kline, who accounted for 17 points on two field goals, five extra points and an 8-yard touchdown reception. He also had a 63-yard punt that was downed inside the 1-yard line, and caught two passes for 34 yards.

“Whether he’s a receiver or kicking the ball, he’s a valuable weapon for us,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said.

Blake Graskey had a big game on defense for Superior, finishing with 18 tackles and a fumble recovery that led to Tharge’s first TD.

Chase Summerfield added 10 tackles; Luke Drougas and Max Plunkett intercepted passes; and Josiah McDonald and Gronski had sacks.

River Falls had 438 yards in offense, led by Bailey Ronnestrand, who rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

Superior took a 7-0 lead when Sanders ran 54 yards untouched around the right end 3:42 into the game.

River Falls followed with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Ronnestrand running up the middle from 6 yards out.

Superior lost 2 yards on its next drive, but Kline followed with a 63-yard punt that pinned River Falls inside its own 1-yard line.

After River Falls failed to move the ball, a short punt gave the Spartans the ball at the 19-yard line.

Less than a minute later Superior took a 10-6 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Kline as time expired in the first quarter.

Superior’s defense then forced turnovers on River Falls’ next three possessions, starting with Graskey’s fumble recovery 37 seconds into the second quarter.

A 28-yard run by Sanders was followed by Tharge running around the left end untouched from 12 yards out. Kline’s extra-point kick made the score 17-6.

River Falls moved the ball into Superior territory with pass plays of 28 and 13 yards, but the drive was stopped with Plunkett’s interception.

Superior made the score 24-6 when quarterback Gunner Johnson dropped the snap but recovered the ball and threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kline, who was wide open in the end zone.

“It was more of a luck thing, I guess,” Johnson said. “It bounced off my hands, they came crashing in on me and Sam had the instincts to find an open spot in the end zone.

“Our success all started with the offensive line. They just pounded them all night, and that’s what we needed.”

Superior’s defense came up with its third straight turnover when Drougas picked off a pass and returned it 33 yards to midfield.

“The takeaways were huge,” DeMeyer said. “Our defense was kind of in the bend-but-not-break type of mode, they were driving on us pretty good. Now we just have to make sure we capitalize on each one of those situations.”

The Spartans were forced to punt after just three plays and River Falls followed with a 72-yard drive that ended with Logan Graetz running up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the half. Jacob Miller’s pass to Matthew Wachtler on the two-point conversion cut Superior’s lead to 24-14.

Superior took the second half kick, ran the ball seven straight times and took a 31-14 lead when Tharge ran around the right end for a 4-yard touchdown.

McDonald’s sack was followed win an incomplete pass on fourth down and seven plays later Kline kicked a 39-yard field goal for a 34-14 lead with 1:17 left in the third quarter.

The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter starting with Joey Davis’ 4-yard run up the middle.

Tharge completed his hat trick with a 27-yard TD with 4:22 remaining.

River Falls completed the scoring with Bailey Ronnestrand’s 6-yard TD with 38 seconds left.

Superior hosts Rice Lake (5-2, 3-2) at 7 p.m. Friday. The Warriors are coming off a 24-17 loss to Menomonie.


River Falls................... 6      8     0     12   —    26

Superior...................... 10     14    10   7    —    41

First Quarter

SHS–Corey Sanders 54-yard run (Sam Kline kick), 8:18.

RF—Baily Ronnestrand 6-yard run (kick wide left), 4:30.

SHS—Sam Kline 35-yard field goal, 0:00.

 

Second Quarter

SHS—Zach Tharge 12-yard run (Kline kick), 11:05.

SHS—Kline 8-yard pass from Gunner Johnson (Kline kick), 5:04.

RF—Logan Graetz 6-yard run (Jacob Miller pass to Matthew Wachtler), 0:11.

Third Quarter

SHS—Tharge 4-yard run (Kline kick), 9:06.

SHS—Kline 39-yard field goal, 1:17.

Fourth Quarter

RF—Joey Davis 5-yard run (run failed), 8:14.

SHS—Tharge 27-yard run (Kline kick), 4:22.

RF—Ronnestrand 6-yard run (run failed), 0:38.

TEAM STATISTICS

                                       RF                SHS

Total Yards....................... 438                377

Passing Yards................... 171                59

Rushing.......................... 53-267            37-318

First Downs....................... 27                 12

Third Down...................... 9-14               5-11

Fourth-Down..................... 1-1                1-0

Penalties.......................... 4-27               7-80

Fum./Lost......................... 1-1                0-0

Time.............................. 26:56             21:04

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — RF, Bailey Ronnestrand, 24-164; Logan Graetz, 16-61; Joey Davis, 9-19; Mason Graetz, 1-16; TJ Petrick, 1-9; Noah Langer, 1-(-2). SHS, Corey Sanders, 6-105; Gunnar Gronski, 12-93; Gunner Johnson, 11-63; Zach Tharge, 7-57; CJ Fortune, 1-0.

PASSING — RF, Logan Graetz, 10-16-1-126; Joey Davis, 3-11-1-31; Noah Langer, 4-7-0-14. SHS, Johnson, 4-9-0-59.

RECEIVING — RF, M. Graetz, 5-63; Jacob Miller, 4-31; Jaxsin Larson, 3-21; Matthew Wachtler, 2-23; Adam Feyereisen, 1-16; Ronnestrand, 1-7. SHS, Sam Kline, 2-59; Tharge, 1-16; Sanders, 1-9.

DEFENSE

Superior

                                         Total      Solo      Ast.

Blake Graskey....................... 18         16         2

Chase Summerfield................ 10          8         2

Chase Elder........................... 9          6         3

Corey Sanders....................... 8          5         3

Gunner Gronski...................... 8          5         3

Zach Tharge........................... 7          6         1

Josiah McDonald..................... 5          5         x

Jack Sannes.......................... 5          4         1

Luke Drougas......................... 4          3         1

Max Plunkett.......................... 4          4         x

Joe Carter............................. 3          2         1

Nick Ferrando......................... 2          1         1

Drake Samarzia...................... 2          2         x

CJ Fortune............................. 2          2         x

Tradel Nickelson...................... 1          1         x

Total.................................... 88         70        18

River Falls

Max Kaminski, 9; Travis Gans, 6; Gavin Naughton, 3; Aaron Baillargeon, 3; Shihab Adam, 3; Mitchell Williamson, 3.