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Tuesday May 26, 2020
REGIONAL CHAMPS! Rockets Outlast Crystal Falls

RAPID RIVER---Neither team was supposed to be there.

But Friday night, both the Rapid River Rockets and Forest Park Trojans proved they belonged as they battled down to the wire with a regional championship on the line.

And in the end, Rapid River made the big plays in the fourth quarter and posted its second straight playoff nailbiting victory, 40-34, in Rapid River.

The game featured a Rockets team that was expected to lose last week at Engadine, and a Forest Park team that barely made the playoffs at 5-4 and was an underdog at North Central last week. But the Rockets and Trojans both came through last week.

And they battled tooth and nail all night this week, and it came down to the end.

With the game tied at 28-28 in the fourth quarter, the Trojans had the ball at the Rocket two yard line, but the Rapid River defense made four defensive stops (with a false start penalty also setting the Trojans back).

Then, the Rockets turned it around with Brent Lundquist throwing a 98-yard touchdown pass to Nate Olson. Most of it was Olson running, with an escort of teammates blocking.

"Brent had a really nice throw and the kid bit on it hard," Olson said. "It was a great play altogether. A very long run! I thank cross country for that one!"

To their credit, the Trojans, the defending state champions, battled through that adversity by driving downfield and converting a fourth down play. Then quarterback Tommy Peltoma found Tommy Showers in the end zone for a 16-yard strike. The Rocket defense, however, batted down the two-point pass, so it stayed tied at 34-34.

Rapid River put together a drive of its own, then went for a little trickey to get the job done as Olson got the ball from Lundquist and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior Sam Orth. The Trojans were caught off-guard, with 1:11 left in the game.

"I was playing center the whole drive," Orth said. "When we got to the sideline, it was Nate Olson's suggestion, like, hey, let's put Sam as an out-back and get him on a little flat pass. And that's actually a play that we practice very often. We just don't run it often."

And then the Rockets held on defense for the final series. Celebration time!

"We knew that Crystal Falls had a tough team," Rockets senior Lenny Menary said. "They're all big. They're all tough. They all hit hard. We had to come back with our own, too."

Earlier in the game, Lundquist threw touchdown passes of 73 and 39 yards to Tyler Sundling. Sundling also added a 53-yard touchdown run.

For CFFP, Peltoma had a38-yard run in the second quarter to give his team a 14-8 lead, the only lead the Trojans would have in the contest.

Rapid River posted a second straight nailbiter after hanging on at the end for a two-point victory last week against Engadine.

"There is not a single thing I have experienced in my 18 years of life that feels like this," Orth said. "It's amazing. It almost brings me to tears."

And so the Rockets (8-3) move to the Final Four in the state, and will get to play at home next Friday against the Cedarville Trojans. The Trojans (7-4) pummeled a good Posen team, 44-0, in the Lower Peninsula Friday night.

The state semifinal game will be broadcast live on Eagle 107.3 FM at 6:30 ET.

Click the thumbnails in the ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS box above to listen to post-game comments from Olson, Orth, and Menary.

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