Rogers rides stingy defense, special teams to home victory against Spuds
The Rogers Royals scored the game's first 20 points to knock off the Moorhead Spuds in the final game of the regular season.
ROGERS, Minn. — Staunch defense and special teams proved to be too much for the Moorhead Spuds to overcome Wednesday night.
The Rogers Royals kicked three field goals and also had a punt return for a score to fuel a 23-7 victory in Minnesota Class 5A football to close out the regular season for both teams.
"When you are playing one of the top teams in the (Class 5A), you have to come out with more energy and juice than we showed," Moorhead head coach Kevin Feeney said. "Reality is that when we play with emotion and we play with enthusiasm we are a pretty good football team. We’re not a good enough football team to play without passion."
The Royals (7-1) scored on the game's first drive and never trailed, building a 20-point halftime lead. The Spuds (5-2) have lost two of their past three games. Moorhead is likely to earn one of the top two seeds in Section 8 for the playoffs, which start next Tuesday. The top two seeds in Section 8 earn a first-round bye and Feeney expects the Spuds to be the top seed in the section with a 4-0 mark in section play. Feeney said seeding is set to be announced Thursday, Oct. 21.
"I still believe we will be the No. 1 seed," Feeney said. "We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got to get back to playing with some swagger and some confidence. It’s all about earning 48 more minutes."
Moorhead was unable to put together a consistent running game as Rogers limited the Spuds to less than 60 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Moorhead quarterback Gavin Quade completed 11 of 33 passes for 193 yards and a score.
The Spuds tried to climb back into the game in the third quarter after Quade tossed a 70-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mekhi Elmore to cut the Rogers lead to 20-7 with less than two minutes remaining. Elmore had a big game, finishing with five receptions for 119 yards.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Spuds drove the ball to the Rogers 39-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. The Royals countered with a Dylan Honnoll 22-yard field goal for a 23-7 lead with a little more than four minutes to play in the fourth.
Royals quarterback Tyson Vylasek completed 12 of 16 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Running back Anthony Powell rushed for 131 yards on 33 attempts, while Honnoll made all three field goals he attempted.
"They were able to run the football," Feeney said. "They were able to make some pass plays down the field and that's all built because they could run the football. We've got to be better."
Rogers got things rolling on its first drive, moving 65 yards in nine plays. Vylasek tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to receiver Owen Kanzler for a 7-0 lead with less than eight minutes to play in the first quarter.
Rogers added 13 points in the second quarter, sparked by Honnoll's 24-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead moments into the second quarter. Kanzler added a 45-yard punt return for a score to build a 17-0 lead with a little less than 11 minutes to play until halftime. The Royals added to that lead after Honnoll booted an 18-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter for a 20-0 lead.
The Spuds couldn't cash in on scoring chances on their first two drives of the game. Their first drive ended at the Rogers 33 with a Cameron Evans 9-yard reception that was a yard short of the first down on a fourth-and-10 play.
Moments later, the Spuds got the ball back at the Rogers 35 after they recovered a fumble. Moorhead drove the ball to the Royals 18 before turning the ball over on downs. Back-to-back incomplete passes ended that scoring threat with less than three minutes to play in the first quarter.
"When plays presented themselves, we didn’t make them," Feeney said. "You can't leave points out on the board."
MHS 0 0 7 0—7
RHS 7 13 0 3—23
RHS: Kanzler 13 pass from Vylasek (Honnoll kick)
RHS: Honnoll 24 field goal
RHS: Kanzler 45 punt return (Honnoll kick)
RHS: Honnoll 18 field goal
MHS: Elmore 70 pass from Quade (Feeney kick)
RHS: Honnoll 22 field goal