by Blake Theisen / Sports Director / @btheisen24
The sound of fireworks ranging through the night sky are a more common occurrence on the 4th of July, in celebration of America’s independence. Instead, on Friday night, fireworks filled the Cold Spring sky in celebration of a ROCORI Spartans touchdown and eventually victory over the Apollo Eagles.
A ceremonial ribbon cutting opened Blattner Stadium to the fans and fireworks to introduce the Spartans. An amazing opening act, that was nearly ruined by Andrew Karls and the Apollo Eagles.
Apollo came into Cold Spring fresh off of their first win in 15 games and stunned the ROCORI crowd with a dominant opening drive. Andrew Karls drove the Eagles 70 yards on 14 plays that finished with a 1 yard touchdown run of his own.
The Spartans responded with an improbable score on their opening drive. Junior quarterback Jack Spanier scrambled away from pressure on a 4th and goal to go from the 18 yard line, and found his tight-end Evan Acheson slicing his way across the back of the end zone. ROCORI wouldn’t slow down on it’s next possession either. Luke Van Erp ran his way in for a 3 yard touchdown to give ROCORI it’s first lead of the ball game.
Trailing 14-6 shortly before halftime, Karls again impressively drove the ball to the Spartan 10 yard line as he hit Thomas Diew multiple times for key first downs. Karls was then able to find Tyler Kayfes on a corner route for another Apollo touchdown, and hit Trevon Roering for the two-point conversion.
After the Eagles score at the end of the first half, momentum began to shift their way. They were able to force ROCORI to go 3-and-out on their first three possessions of the second half and recaptured the lead on another short touchdown run by Karls.
ROCORI was sputtering out of control after punting on five straight possessions, running just 16 plays since the Van Erp touchdown, and hadn’t completed a pass in the second half. They needed to bring some fireworks back to Blattner Stadium. The offense opened the fourth quarter with the ball on their own 27 yard line. Spanier took the snap out of the shotgun, rolled out to his left, and heaved a deep ball down the sideline. His pass landed right in the hands of junior receiver Hunter Nistler and ROCORI took the lead for good.
Apollo was forced to punt the ball away with about five minutes left in the game, and the Spartans never gave it back. They methodically worked their way down the field, munching time off the clock before entering victory formation for the first time at Blattner Stadium.
Karls put together his best game of the season, totaling 281 yards through the ground and the air and three touchdowns. Spanier meanwhile threw for 180 yards on 8-of-17 passing and 2 touchdowns.
ROCORI, who is ranked 4th in Class AAAA, improved to 3-1 and heads to Chisago Lakes next week before returning to Blattner Stadium for their final three games.
The Eagles fall to 1-3, with losses to #1 Hutchinson, Willmar, and ROCORI. They’ll have a week off, before the take on their crosstown rivals, the Tech Tigers on Friday, October 1st. That game can be heard right here on 88.1fm KVSC.