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Rebels rise up, beat defending state champs

Southland wins thriller over Trojans

By Scott A. Kolb

skolb@postbulletin.com

RUSHFORD — Every 16 years or so, the Southland Rebels rise up and beat the Rushford-Peterson Trojans. For the first time since 1991, it happened again Friday night.

First-half domination on the ground led the Rebels to an upset of the state Class A defending champions, at Niggle Field.

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Southland built a 21-6 halftime lead and then hung on for dear life in a wild fourth quarter as turnovers almost cost it the game. This was the Three Rivers Conference, South Division opener for both teams and now the Rebels sit atop the standings.

Fittingly, it was the Rebels defense that made a stand in the closing minutes and stopped the Trojans on downs to preserve a 21-19 win. It was homecoming for the Trojans, but it was the Rebels who were celebrating after the game.

"It’s incredible how our guys never quit," Southland coach Shawn Kennedy said. "We let R-P back in the game, but our defense wouldn’t let us lose. We rode our seniors and they came through at the end. I’m so happy for these kids; they worked so hard to get ready for this game. In all my years of coaching I’ve never beaten a top-ranked team."

Jake Chapek set the tone for the Rebels on the second play from scrimmage. Chapek got around the right side of the

R-P defense and raced 76 yards for a touchdown. It put the Rebels on top to stay.

"It was one of those plays where the line made a nice hole and I only had one guy to beat," Chapek said. "The play just opened up and I couldn’t believe we scored on the second play against their defense."

Chapek put the hurt on the R-P defense in the first half as he amassed 140 yards on the ground and scored a pair of touchdowns. He finished the game with 182 yards rushing and also made a two-point conversion, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

After the Rebels stopped the Trojans on their first drive, it was back to work for the offense. This time the march was more methodical and carried over into the second quarter. The Rebels chewed up time and yardage as they had a 19-play scoring drive.

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Southland quarterback Kody Retterath connected with Winston Smith for a short touchdown pass and Chapek ran in the conversion for a 14-0 lead. The defense then came up with a turnover as Brian Voigt intercepted a pass from R-P quarterback Justin Rasmussen.

The Rebels once again marched toward paydirt and were threatening to turn the game into a rout. Then disaster struck and the Trojans got back in the hunt. On first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Retterath went up the middle on a quarterback keeper.

Near the goal line, Retterath reached the ball out but it was knocked away. Brady Yocum scooped the ball up and raced the other way for a 100-yard touchdown on the fumble recovery. But the kick was missed on the extra point and the Rebels quickly responded.

Retterath atoned for his turnover by leading the team on a seven-play drive near the end of the half. He connected on passes to Winston Smith and Voigt in the scoring march. Chapek then capped off the march with a 15-yard touchdown run. En route, he ran over five R-P defenders.

"Our coach is always preaching never quit, and I was determined to find the end zone on that run," Chapek said. "We knew we had to buckle down to beat the best and it’s an unreal feeling to knock off the defending state champs on their homecoming."

The third quarter was scoreless, but the Rebels almost shot themselves in the foot in the fourth. Smith fumbled and the Trojans returned the recovery all the way to the Rebels 11-yard line. Parker Brand scored four plays later for R-P, but the two-point conversion attempt failed.

Southland then had to punt on the next series, and R-P came back with another touchdown drive. R-P scored with just over four minutes left, and it was a two-point game. The Rebels then had to sweat it out.

Although they got a couple of first downs and forced the Trojans to use all of their time-outs, the Rebels couldn’t put it away. R-P next blocked a punt and had the ball at the Southland 33 with under two minutes to play.

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This time the defense stood its ground and nailed Brand for a loss on first down. The next play was a halfback pass from Brand. The ball appeared to be heading for an open receiver down the sidelines until Voigt jumped in and batted it away. Two more plays came up short and the Rebels had their biggest road win in nearly two decades.

"Voigt was banged up the whole second half, but he wanted to go back in for the last defensive series and he made a great play," Kennedy said. "We felt we could play with them and our guys had a great first half. We’ve been working on the running game, and we knew we could get outside on them. Still, it wasn’t easy and we had to rely on our defense to get it done at the end."

Southland (4-0, 1-0 TRC South) plays Chatfield at home next Friday night.

Game summary, B2

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