A fumble recovery for a touchdown changed the momentum on a wet and chilly night as the Conestoga Cougars defeated the Rocket football team, 27-8, on Friday, Oct. 4.
Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca and Conestoga both entered the contest looking for their first win.
The Rockets led 8-7 in the second quarter of this, their homecoming contest, and were on the move against Conestoga.
S-D-A fumbled the ball on their opponent’s 30-yard line and the Cougars returned it for a touchdown.  After a successful extra point, Conestoga led 14-8 and the Cougars never looked back.
The Rockets defense made a nice goal line stand in the first quarter.  Conestoga took over on the Rocket five-yard line after recovering a fumble.
On fourth-and-goal, Elliot Kurh shot in and stopped Conestoga from reaching the endzone, and the game remained scoreless.
S-D-A went three-and-out and had to punt.  Conestoga took over on offense and that’s when Jacob Dragon took off for a 34-yard touchdown run.  After a successful PAT, the Cougars led 7-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
Mitchell Brinkman and the Rockets answered back on their next possession.  
Brinkman ran the ball for 26 yards down to the Cougar one-yard line.  
Brinkman bulled his way through the defense for a touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion run from Kurh and the Rockets led 8-7.
In the second quarter, the Rockets maintained possession on their own 24-yard line with 10:29 on the clock.
S-D-A reached the Cougar 34-yard line on eight plays that included an 18-yard run by Kurh.
On third-down-and-two, the Rockets fumbled and Conestoga returned the ball for a 66-yard touchdown.  The point after was good and Conestoga led 14-8 with 5:46 left to play in the second quarter.
Before the first half ended, the Rockets were on the move.
Quarterback Robert Shanks connected with Owen Wander on a play-action pass for 29 yards.
With the ball on Conestoga’s 10-yard line, Shanks found a wide-open Wander in the endzone for a touchdown pass, but unfortunately the Rockets were called for holding, and, at the end of the half, Conestoga carried a 14-8 lead.
Field position was in favor of Conestoga in the second half.  The Cougars pinned the Rockets inside their five-yard line on two different punts and S-D-A had trouble getting out of the hole.
Conestoga intercepted a pass and took over on the Rocket 26-yard line.  Eight plays later, Tobias Nolting scored a rushing touchdown from one-yard out and the Cougars led 21-8 with 1:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Still in the third quarter, with the Rockets possessing the ball, Shanks pitched the ball to Brinkman, who then threw to Jace Goebel for a 26-yard halfback pass. A few plays later, the Rockets turned the ball over.
With 4:43 left in the fourth quarter, Nolting took off on a run play for a 10-yard touchdown and the Cougars would go on to get the 27-8 win.
S-D-A out-gained the Cougars in total yards, 281-198.
Freshman Elliot Kuhr rushed for 111 yards on 18 carries.  Brinkman rushed for 71 yards and one touchdown.
Owen Wander caught two passes for 44 yards and led the team in tackles with nine.
Shanks and Brinkman combined for 100 yards passing.
S-D-A is still in search for its first win with a limited roster due to injuries.
On Friday, Oct. 11 the Rockets (0-6) will be home to face Wilber-Clatonia (4-2).
Kick-off is at 7 p.m.