MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Oct. 7–14)
SIX RIVERS FOOTBALL: Potosi/Cassville 28, River Ridge 20
CASSVILLE – Last Friday night’s Six Rivers conference football contest between River Ridge and Potosi/Cassville was filled with big play after big play, as the two teams combined to score six touchdowns from 15 yards out or further.
In the end, it was coach Mark Siegert’s Chieftains who hung on for a 28-20 victory, handing River Ridge its first loss of the season, while remaining undefeated at 2-0.
Coming into Friday night’s contest played at Cassville, the Chieftains had only played one game this season, a 42-7 trouncing of Pecatonica/Argyle in week one. The team’s week two contest against De Soto had been cancelled due to COVID concerns, and their replacement game against Richland Center also turned out to be cancelled at the very last minute.
River Ridge came into the contest with convincing wins over Iowa-Grant (42-0) and Onalaska Luther (44-0), bringing with them a 2-0 record into the third week of the season.
“We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough game,” said coach Siegert of the Timberwolves. “They hadn’t allowed a point yet, and they just looked really solid on film. We certainly weren’t surprised when we got on the field and saw a quality team.”
“Anytime you can get a win on a Friday night right now, it’s awesome. Every game that you get, you just have to take it in and not take it for granted,” Siegert added.
When it came to big plays, both teams had their share last Friday night, but it was Potosi/Cassville who scored on pass plays of 66, 57 and 24 yards.
“Obviously, giving up big plays really hurt us,” said River Ridge head coach Wade Winkers. “I don’t think we played our best game by far. We had a lot of problems in a lot of areas that we’ve all been talking about and maybe been able to cover up the last couple weeks. This week those areas were exposed.”
“If we don’t give up the big plays to them, the game is different,” Winkers added. “Obviously too though, if they don’t give up a couple of big plays to us, the game is different as well.”
The first quarter of Friday night’s contest saw Potosi/Cassville score on a 66-yard pass play from junior Levi Groom to junior wide out Robby Roe.
River Ridge answered with a 44-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Logan Drone to sophomore wide out Braden Crubel, tying the game at 6-6 after one quarter of play.
Groom and Roe hooked up once more early in the second quarter on a 57-yard TD strike, while Groom added the two-point conversion pass to junior Connor McKillip, giving the Chieftains a 14-6 halftime lead.
The Chieftains scored again late in the third quarter on a four-yard TD run from junior speedster Ashton Spitzack, while freshman Roman Friederick added the extra-point kick.
Though they trailed 21-6 going into the fourth quarter, coach Winkers and his Timberwolves never gave up in the final quarter, and made the Chieftains sweat it out until the final seconds ticked away.
With 10:29 to play in the contest, the Timberwolves pulled to within 21-12 on a 20-yard TD pass from Drone to senior Ethan Hunt. A crucial two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
The River Ridge defense then made a big stop and forced Potosi/Cassville to punt with just over eight minutes to play, giving the Timberwolves the ball at their own 47-yard line.
After successfully moving the ball down to the 15-yard line, River Ridge was faced with a fourth-and-nine from the 15 with 5:27 showing on the clock. That’s when Drone delivered another touchdown pass to Hunt in the corner of the end zone. The two-point conversion run by junior Will Cooley pulled River Ridge to within 21-20 with only 5:18 remaining in the game.
On their next possession, Potosi/Cassville got a big run from Spitzack with a facemask penalty added on, setting the Chieftains up with first-and-goal from River Ridge’s 10-yard line.
After two running plays that lost four yards, coach Siegert dialed up a pass play that resulted in a 14-yard touchdown strike from Groom to sophomore Sam Udelhofen. Roman Friederick’s extra-point give game the Chieftains a 28-20 lead with 2:18 to play.
“We got them to third-and-long, and they surprised me with a pass play,” Winkers said. “I really thought they would just try to run the clock down as much as they could, but kudos to them and to coach Siegert and his staff for taking a shot there and essentially putting the game on ice.”
Following the ensuing kick off, River Ridge took over at their own 34-yard line, and after six plays, turned the ball over on downs at the 45 with 1:32 showing on the clock.
Needing to just run out the remaining time, Potosi/Cassville fumbled the snap, and the ball was recovered by River Ridge at the 45-yard line with 1:25 to play in the game.
Following a three-yard pass completion on first down, and an incomplete pass on second, the Timberwolves were faced with a third-and-seven from the 43-yard line with 58 seconds to play. Their next two passes fell incomplete, turning the ball back over to the Chieftains with 48.8 seconds to play.
Potosi/Cassville then successfully ran out the clock to preserve the victory.
On the night, Potosi/Cassville accumulated 348 yards of total offense on 41 plays, getting 187 yards through the air and 161 on the ground.
Groom completed 6-of-9 passing attempts for 187 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while Roe hauled in three receptions for 148 yards and two TDs.
“It’s the second game in a row where Robby has really had some nice catches,” coach Siegert said.
On the ground, Spitzack rushed for 115 yards and one score on 17 carries, while senior Tucker Leibfried rushed for 67 yards on eight carries.
“He’s one of those kids that are very explosive, and on any play and at any given moment, if he’s touching the ball, he could be a problem for teams,” Siegert said of Spitzack.
“In my mind, routine plays become big plays because of the athletes who are performing the routine plays,” Siegert explained. “Obviously we benefitted from some explosive plays, and we are really blessed to have some guys who at any moment can take what looks to be a run-of-the-mill play and take it the distance. It’s a testament to the kinds of kids that we have.”
For the Timberwolves, they were without one of their main offensive weapons for most of the contest when junior fullback Owen Hamilton left the game on his team’s first drive. Up until that point he had four carries for 26 yards.
“I really was happy with the way our guys fought after that, because that’s a big shock for any team when you lose a player of his stature and what he means to the team, both offensively and defensively,” Winkers said.
“I think our guys tried to step it up. We didn’t play well and we didn’t coach well, and that’s because we didn’t have enough people ready,” Winkers added. “The pieces had to be moved and everything had to be shuffled. We didn’t have enough reps with the new look.”
Leading the River Ridge rushing attack was Cooley with 42 yards on 16 carries, while Drone had 19 yards on four attempts.
Through the air, Drone completed 15-of-26 passing attempts for 192 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Crubel hauled in three receptions for 111 yards and one TD, while Hunt had seven receptions for 55 yards and two scores.
Defensively for River Ridge, Hunt and Brody Kielley each had a team-high six tackles, while Drone had five and Gavin Esser four.
Potosi/Cassville’s defense was led by Connor McKillip who had 17 stops, while Levi Hampton had 16 and Cody Klein 14.
This Friday night, Potosi/Cassville (2-0) plays at Highland (3-0), while River Ridge (2-1) will host Pecatonica/Argyle (0-2) on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m.
Potosi/Cassville 28, River Ridge 20
(from Friday, Oct. 9, at Potosi)
River Ridge..........6 0 0 14 - 20
Potosi/Cassville..6 8 7 7 - 28
P/C - (2:03) Robby Roe, 66-yard pass from Levi Groom (kick failed).
RR - (0:00) Braden Crubel, 45-yard pass from Logan Drone (run failed)
P/C - (10:25) Roe, 57-yard pass from Groom (Connor McKillip pass from Raz Okey)
P/C - (5:32) Ashton Spitzack, 4-yard run (Roman Friederick kick)
RR - (10:29) Ethan Hunt, 20-yard pass from Drone (pass failed)
RR - (5:18) Hunt, 15-yard pass from Drone (Will Cooley run)
P/C - (2:18) Sam Udelhofen, 24-yard pass from Groom (Friederick kick)
First downs - RR 12, P/C 11. Rushing - RR 30-92, P/C 32-161. Passing yards - RR 192, P/C 187. Passes - RR 15-26-0, P/C 6-9-1. Fumbles-lost - RR 1-1, P/C 0-0. Penalties-yards - RR 8-50, P/C 8-50.
RR: Will Cooley 16-42, Owen Hamilton 4-26, Logan Drone 4-19, Ian Adrian 4-7, Ethan Hunt 2-(-2). P/C: Ashton Spitzack 17-115, Tucker Leibfried 8-67, Levi Groom 7-(-21).
RR: Logan Drone 15-26-0, 192. P/C: Levi Groom 6-9-1, 187.
RR: Braden Crubel 3-111, Ethan Hunt 7-55, Ian Adrian 5-26. P/C: Robby Roe 3-148, Sam Udelhofen 1-24, Jake Stoney 1-12, Connor McKillip 1-3.