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Spartans suffer sixth straight loss (updated)

The Superior High School football team turned the ball over five times in a 49-32 loss to the Rice Lake Warriors Friday night at Pug Lund Field in Rice Lake.

The Warriors clinched a WIAA playoff berth with the victory and improve to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Rivers Conference,

The Spartans suffered their sixth straight loss to fall to 2-6 and 0-6.

The Spartans turned the ball over on their first three possessions with the first two leading to Rice Lake touchdowns and a 12-0 lead.

Superior took the opening kick and moved the ball from its own 12 to midfield. But on a first-down play, Rice Lake’s Chris Stodola recovered a fumble and eight plays later Brandon Sutton ran up the middle from 3 yards out. Gabe Sexton sacked Rice Lake quarterback Peyton Buckley on the extra point for a 6-0 score seven minutes into the game.

Sam Bliese then intercepted a Luke Drougas pass and six plays later Billy Brown avoided a couple of tacklers and then dragged a Spartan into the end zone on a 29-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick attempt was blocked making the score 12-0.

Superior turned the ball again on the first play of its next drive, another fumble recovery by Stodola, but this time the Spartan defense stopped the Warriors on fourth down at the 15.

“Starting the game with turnovers on our first three possessions really put us in a hole,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “We gave them great field position and put our defense in a bad spot too many times.

The Spartans followed with an 84-yard drive that ended with Drougas throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Max Plunkett on a fourth-down play. Dominic D’Auria’s extra-point kick got the Spartans within 12-7 two minutes into the second quarter.

The Warriors got that touchdown back two minutes later when Buckley threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Averie Habas. Buckley also connected with Habas on the two-point conversion to make the score 20-7.

Things then got a bit crazy with 17 points scored in the final 52 seconds of the first half — starting with a 30-yard field goal by Superior’s D’Auria.

Superior attempted an on-side kick, but Stodola picked up the ball in full stride and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Bliese kicked the extra point, giving Rice Lake a 27-17 lead.

Drougas then one-upped Stodola by returning the ensuing kick-off 83 yards for a touchdown. D’Auria’s extra-point kick got the Spartans within 27-17 with 29 seconds remaining.

Rice Lake moved the ball to midfield in two plays, but the half ended with Chase Summerfield sacking Buckley.

The scoring frenzy carried over into the third quarter with Rice Lake scoring 22 points and Superior seven.

The Warriors’ TDs included a 1-yard run by Buckley, a 75-yard kick-off return by John Sutton and a 32-yard run by Brown.

Superior’s score came on Corey Sanders’ 11-yard run.

“They have explosive players on offense that can score from anywhere and they have the ability to eat a lot of the clock,” DeMeyer said. “There were times we’d have them stopped and they’d convert on third and fourth downs or bust a big play.”

The only score in the fourth quarter was a 4-yard touchdown run by Elijah Owens.

“I was proud of how our kids competed all game and still gave us a shot in the fourth quarter,” DeMeyer said. “We moved the ball and put points on the board, however, we had special teams breakdowns and two more turnovers that were too much to overcome.

“If they can stay healthy, Rice Lake has the type of team that can make a run in the playoffs.”

Drougas rushed for 89 yards and completed 4-of-8 passes for 66 yards. Jarrett Gronski added 81 yards rushing and was 3-of-5 passing for 31 yards. Gunnar Gronski added 77 yards rushing and Plunkett caught four passes for 54 yards.

Summerfield led Superior on defense with nine tackles, including one sack. Drake Samarzia added eight tackles, and Sexton had seven tackles, including a sack.

Rice Lake’s Brown rushed for 117 yards and Buckley was 3-of-8 passing for 44 yards.

The Spartans wrap up their season by hosting Eau Claire North (0-8, 0-6) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Superior.................. 0.... 17        7      8    —     32

Rice Lake............... 12.... 15      22      0    —     49

First Quarter

RL — Brandon Sutton 3-yard run (pass failed), 7:17.

RL — Bill Brown 29-yard run (kick blocked), 3:56.

Second Quarter

SHS — Max Plunkett 19-yard pass from Luke Drougas (Dominic D’Auria kick), 9:58.

RL — Averie Habas 24-yard pass from Peyton Buckley (Buckley pass to Habas).

SHS — D’Auria 30-yard FG, 0:52.

RL — Stodola 50-yard kick return (Sam Bliese kick), 0:43.

SHS — Drougas 84-yard kick return (D’Auria kick), 0:29.

Third Quarter

RL — Buckley 1-yard run (John Kohler run), 6:12.

SHS — Corey Sanders 11-yard run (D’Auria kick), 1:46.

RL — Sutton 75-yard kick-off return (Bliese kick), 1:32.

RL — Brown 37-yard run (Bliese kick), 0:21.

Fourth Quarter

SHS — Elijah Owens 4-yard run (Drougas pass to D’Auria).

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — RL, Brown 6-117, Brandon Sutton 16-69, DeAirus Clerveaux 7-60, Buckley 9-18. SHS, Drougas 15-89, Jarrett Gronski 10-81, Gunnar Gronski 16-77; Corey Sanders, 5-10; Elijah Owens, 2-4.

PASSING — RL, Buckley 3-8-0-44. SHS, Drougas 4-8-2-66. J. Gronski 3-5-1-31.

RECEIVING — RL, Habas 1-24, Brown 1-14. SHS, Plunkett 4-54; Owens, 2-27; Cayden Laurvick, 1-16.

Superior’s Defense

Chase Summerfield, 9; Drake Samarzia, 8; Gabe Sexton, 7; Gunnar Gronski, 5; Max Plunkett, 5; Luke Drougas, 4; Joe Carter, 4; Logan Stone, 4; Dylan Lowney, 4; Trevor Dalbec, 3; Corey Sanders, 3; Cayden Laurvick, 1; Devin Samarzia, 1.

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