S-D-A rushers accounted for 322 yards and six touchdowns on Friday night as the Rockets topped Conestoga, 49-6.
Christian Frederick was the leading ground gainer for S-D-A with 149 yards and four scores on just 10 carries. Max Kuhr had two rushing touchdowns and 33 yards.
Brendon Lyon had 79 yards on four carries and Brandon Cavanaugh had 59 rush yards.
Frederick caught one pass for the Rocket offense and also one for the defense. His offensive catch from the Rockets’ freshman quarterback Burton Brandt covered 26 yards. And his defensive catch led to a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Logan Mueller was the Rockets’ leading tackler with eight stops including a sack and two tackles for loss. Izaak Prater had seven stops, one of them a sack, and three tackles for loss. Frederick had seven stops while Kuhr and Lyon had six each.
Turning to the scoring from the game, the Rockets got a 33-yard rush from Frederick on the team’s opening offensive play. After losing two yards on the second play, Frederick carried the ball 37 yards to the end zone and the Rockets led 6-0 with 10:42 left in the first quarter.
The Rockets forced a fumble on Conestoga’s first possession and Will McCoy covered the ball for S-D-A.
Cavanaugh converted a 3rd-and-2 with a 19-yard run and Kuhr later rushed for a 23-yard score. Lyon’s point after kick made it 13-0.
Mueller’s tackle for loss helped to stop the next Cougar drive and the Rockets went back to work on offense.
Cavanaugh had a 16-yard run and Brandt found Frederick on a pass connection that was enhanced by a Conestoga roughing the passer penalty. Kuhr capped the drive with a five yard run and the score was 19-0 with 8:38 left until half.
After a Conestoga punt, S-D-A drove 59 yards and capped the offensive march with a five yard Frederick run. The score was 25-0.
Conestoga got the ball to start the second half but threw a pick-6 to Frederick that, after Lyon’s point after kick, put the score at 32-0.
A Cougar punt had the Rocket offense back on the field and S-D-A scored again. A 56-yard Lyon run set up Frederick for a five yard score. Lyon’s PAT kick had the score at 39-0.
Conestoga got on the board with a long touchdown run near the end of the third quarter but the Rockets roared back with a 54-yard march capped by a Frederick 13-yard rush and a Lyon PAT kick to put the score at 46-6.
Conestoga marched the ball deep into S-D-A territory but was forced to settle for a field goal, making the final count 46-9 in favor of the home team.
Coach Nordhues said he was happy with how the Rockets played.
“Our kids were physical and ran hard. We didn’t turn the ball over,” Nordhues said. “Those are some things that we have been looking for.
“I was really pleased with our offensive effort. We have needed that.”
Defensively, the Rockets were challenged by Conestoga’s run game. The Cougars have a deceptive plan where runners give defenders the impression that the play is meant to go outside, and then they cut back.
At times, the Rocket defenders over-pursued, which gave the Cougars some running space. Ultimately though, the defense clamped down and the Rockets won decisively to open districts.
The biggest defensive highlight came on Conestoga’s field goal drive. With the score out of hand, it would have been easy to let the Cougars have a touchdown, but the Rockets were not in a charitable mood. Nordhues said the effort was good by his squad in that instance.
“We are depleted,” Nordhues said in referring to the Rockets’ injury issues. “We had some young kids in there. Every play is an opportunity.
“We are trying to coach them up and they did a good job. I am really happy.”
The Rockets are scheduled to continue district play on Friday with a trip to Louisville. Coach Nordhues said his team would enjoy the Conestoga win and then direct their attention to the next foe.
“We’ve got to get ourselves healthy and find a groove,” he said. “And I think tonight we found a little bit of a groove.”