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Late field goal sinks Spartans

Superior High School's Lars Root (55) celebrates as quarterback Jarrett Gronski pushes his way into the end zone for the go-ahead two-point conversion with 2:20 remaining against River Falls Friday night in River Falls. The Wildcats would answer with a field goal with 7 seconds left to defeat the Spartans, 32-30. (Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia)1 / 3
Superior High School quarterback Jarrett Gronski (6) avoids a pair of River Falls defenders on his way to the end zone for the first touchdown of the game in the Spartan’s 32-30 loss to the Wildcats Friday night at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. (Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia)2 / 3
Superior High School's Conner Fonger (27) slips a tackle on his way to a 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Spartan’s 32-30 loss to River Falls Friday night in River Falls. (Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia)3 / 3

RIVER FALLS — Luke Nelson kicked a 39-yard field goal with 7 seconds remaining to give the River Falls Wildcats a 32-30 win over the Superior High School Spartans Friday night at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field.

The loss, Superior’s fifth straight, drops the Spartans to 2-5 overall and 0-5 in the Big Rivers Conference.

The win was the first for River Falls under head coach David Crail, who coached the Northwestern Tigers the past two seasons. The Wildcats are now 1-6 overall, 1-4 BRC.

Nelson’s game-winning kick capped a wild fourth quarter that saw the Wildcats and Spartans combine for 32 points, including 17 in the final four minutes.

River Falls took a 29-22 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Flanagan to Joe Stoffel with 3 minutes, 57 seconds remaining.

Superior answered when Max Plunkett stole a Jarrett Gronski pass away from a River Falls defender and turned into a 55-yard touchdown with 2:20 remaining.

Instead of going for the tie with the extra-point kick, Superior elected to go for two points on the conversion and was successful when Gronski ran up the middle to give Superior a 30-29 lead.

The Wildcats took over at their own 34-yard line with 2:14 remaining and no time outs. Flanagan hit Payton Flood on fourth-and-8 for a 21-yard gain and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Superior, moved the ball to the Spartan 40.

Flanagan found Joel Stoffel for a 15-yard gain to the 25, but a sack and illegal procedure penalty set the Wildcats up with third-and-15 at the 35 with 24 seconds left.

Flanagan hit Flood over the middle to the 20, and with the clock ticking the Wildcat field goal unit lined up and Nelson split the uprights with seven seconds left.

Superior tried a series of laterals on the ensuing kickoff before fumbling the ball away as time expired.

“From a fan’s perspective, it was a great high school football game,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “Several lead changes, they score to go ahead, we score and go ahead with a conversion and they kick a last second field goal.

“River Falls has had many close games all season and those don’t show up in the win-loss columns. We knew it would be a battle, they’re a good team and getting better each week.”

The Spartans took a 15-0 lead in the first quarter with touchdowns on their first two possessions.

After forcing a River Falls punt on the opening drive, Superior moved 93 yards in 12 plays, ending with J. Gronski scrambling for a 20-yard touchdown run. Gronski also connected with Corey Sanders on the conversion for an 8-0 lead with 5:48 left in the first quarter.

Superior recovered the on-side kick at the 46 and five plays and 1:07 later Conner Fonger ran around the left end for a 9-yard touchdown. Dominic D’Auria booted the extra point to give the Spartans a 15-0 lead.

“We started great in all phases,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “We talked about starting fast like that and getting stronger as the game goes on. Unfortunately we didn’t do that. I credit River Falls for their grit and discipline for that, however, once again we made too many critical mistakes--penalties, turnovers and mental errors.”

After the teams trade punts, River Falls cut Superior’s lead to 15-7 with Seth Kohel’s 5-yard touchdown 29 seconds into the second quarter. The two-play drive also included Kohel’s 31-yard run and Nelson’s extra-point kick.

River Falls tied the score at 15-15 on the with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter on Kohel’s 1-yard TD run and Mason Prigge’s two-point run on a double reverse.

Kohel broke free for a 31-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game, 22-15, but Gronski scored from 4 yards out on a quarterback draw with 7:29 remaining to tie the score, 22-22, and set the stage for a dramatic final four minutes.

Superior outgained River Falls 347-287 in total yards, but was unable to stop Kohel, who rushed for 207 yard on 29 carries.

J. Gronski led the Spartans with 100 yard rushing on 15 carries. Gunnar Gronski added 87 yards on 19 carries, and Fonger and Sanders chipped in with 33 and 25 yards, respectively.

J. Gronski was also 7-of-17 passing for 129 yards with Plunkett catching two passes for 64 yards and Sanders three passes for 42 yards.

The Spartans play at Rice Lake Friday then wrap up the regular season by hosting Eau Claire North on Oct. 13.

SPARTAN SPIN: Drake Smarzia led Superior on defense with nine tackles. Joe Carter had two tackles to go along with a sack and tackle for loss. Derek Fender also had a TFL. … Nelson led River Falls with 11 tackles and Adam Feyereisen recovered a fumble.

Superior................. 15      0       0     15    —   30

River Falls................ 0      7       8     17    —   32

First Quarter

SHS — Jarrett Gronski, 20-yard run (Corey Sanders run) 5:48.

SHS — Conner Fonger 9-yard run (Dominic D’Auria kick), 4;41.

Second Quarter

RF — Seth Kohel 5-yard run (Luke Nelson), 11:31.

Third Quarter

RF — Kohel 1-yard run (Mason Prigge run), 2:28.

Fourth Quarter

RF — Kohel 31-yard run (Nelson kick).

SHS — J. Gronski 4-yard run (D’Auria kick), 7:29.

RF — Ryan Flanigan 4-yard pass to Joel Stoffel (Nelson kick), 3:57.

SHS — J. Gronski 55-yard pass to Max Plunkett (J. Gronski run), 2:20.

RF — Nelson, 39-yard FG, 0:07.

TEAM STATISTICS

                                             SHS              RF

Total Plays.......................... 66               60

Total Yards......................... 347             287

Passing Yards.................... 129              76

Rushing.............................. 245             211

First Downs.......................... 20               14

Turnovers.............................. 1                 0

Fumbles Lost ....................... 1                 0

Penalties............................ 7-93            5-78

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — SHS, Jarrett Gronski, 15-100; Gunnar Gronski, 19-87; Conner Fonger, 5-33; Corey Sanders, 5-25. RF, Seth Kohel, 29-207; Mason Prigge, 8-23; Ryan Flanigan, 3-(-13).

PASSING — SHS, J. Gronski, 7-17-0—129. RF, Flanigan, 7-14-0—76.

RECEIVING — SHS, Max Plunkett, 2-64; Sanders, 3-42; Fonger, 1-19; Elijah Owens, 1-4. RF, Joe Stoffel, 2-40; Nate Rixmann, 3-25; Payton Flood, 1-8; Prigge, 1-3.

DEFENSE

Superior

                                                Tk          Ast

  1. Samarzia............................. 9 6
  2. Plunkett.............................. 3 3
  3. Sexton................................. 2 5
  4. Stone................................... 2 2
  5. Laurvick.............................. 2 1
  6. Carter................................... 2 1
  7. McClure............................... 2 x
  8. Gronski................................ 1 x
  9. Fender................................. 1 x
  10. Schorr................................. 1 x
  11. Gronski................................ x 3
  12. Sanders............................... x 2
  13. Dalbec................................. x 5
  14. Lowney................................ x 3
  15. Fonger................................. x 1
  16. Stone................................... x 1
  17. Rest of team    5              1
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