PREP FOOTBALL: Maras runs wild in Red Rock Central's 33-12 victory

HERON LAKE -- Scoring on their first three possessions and building an early 21-0 lead Saturday night, the Red Rock Central Falcons were in control from start to finish and earned a 33-12 victory over the Southwestern United Wildcats in a Souther...

RRC's Maras for TD
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Red Rock Central's Daniel Maras (6) waits for a block from teammate Nathan Mattison (32) during the Saturday's football game in Heron Lake. Maras accounted for four touchdowns in the game.

HERON LAKE -- Scoring on their first three possessions and building an early 21-0 lead Saturday night, the Red Rock Central Falcons were in control from start to finish and earned a 33-12 victory over the Southwestern United Wildcats in a Southern Minnesota Conference football game.

In a game that was rescheduled from Friday night and moved from Lamberton to Heron Lake due to the recent heavy rainfall, both teams performed well. RRC (3-1) and SWU (0-4) scored 12 points apiece after the Falcons bolted out to a quick three-touchdown advantage.

"This was the most complete game that we have played all year," RRC head coach Isaac Jenniges said. "We had great field position to begin the first half, as a strong opening kickoff return and an interception helped set up our first two touchdowns. Then we got a defensive stop and put together a sustained scoring drive, as we did a pretty good job overall in all three phases of the game."

Daniel Maras scored four of RRC's five touchdowns, including all three that the Falcons punched in during the first half. Maras, who rushed for a team-best 82 yards on 12 carries, scored on runs of six and 12 yards before taking a 12-yard screen pass from Dylan Bunting (9-for-17 passing, 116 yards) and streaking into the end zone.

Bunting connected with George Rogotzke for an eight-yard touchdown play on RRC's opening possession of the second half, as Ray Hagberg blocked a Wildcat punt to set the Falcons up inside the red zone. Maras then intercepted a pass on the ensuing SWU drive, returning the ball 79 yards along the left sideline for a touchdown that produced a 33-6 bulge for the Falcons.


RRC, which rushed for 180 yards, also got key contributions on the ground from Nathan Mattison (nine carries for 40 yards) and Mitchell Schroepfer (seven carries for 54 yards). Tyler Erickson reeled in two passes for a team-high 53 yards receiving.

Meanwhile, SWU's Jake Walker had a big night, tossing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jameson Collin in the second quarter and scrambling for a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Operating primarily from the shot-gun formation, Walker completed 7 of 24 passes for 153 yards and rushed for 67 yards on 23 carries.

"We moved the ball well on a couple of drives," SWU co-head coach Jason Fisher said. "This was also one of our best defensive efforts of the season. We just need to keep improving and put together four solid quarters of football."

Falcons jump ahead early

Rogotzke returned the game's opening kickoff 30 yards, as the Falcons started their first possession at SWU's 40-yard line. Maras carried the ball four times for 34 yards on the six-play drive, capping it with a six-yard touchdown on a sweep to the left.

Josh Mason added the extra point with a kick through the uprights, lifting RRC to a 7-0 lead with 10:35 showing on the first-quarter clock.

Walker started the Wildcats' first series with a pair of strong runs (six and seven yards) to collect a first down, but Maras picked off a pass two plays later to give the ball back to Falcons.

Starting inside Wildcat territory once again (this time at the 33-yard line), RRC took advantage of solid field position. A 33-yard connection from Bunting to Erickson on fourth-and-17 from the 40 gave the Falcons a first-and-goal situation.


Then, after a five-yard penalty moved RRC back, Maras took a toss to the right and ran untouched into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Mason added the extra point, increasing the Falcons' lead to 14-0 at the six-minute mark.

SWU answered with an impressive drive that started at its own 37-yard line. Walker moved the chains with a 15-yard run and later picked up another first down with a 20-yard strike to Collin.

The Wildcats gained their third first down of the possession when Walker found Mitch VanWesten for an 11-yard gain on fourth-and-nine, moving the ball to the Falcons' 19-yard line.

SWU, though, turned the ball over on downs. RRC took over at its own 23-yard line, and the Falcons were on the move as the game entered the second quarter.

Two runs by Mattison (eight and five yards) gave the Falcons a fresh set of downs, while Bunting's 20-yard aerial to Erickson on third-and-13 moved the chains again. Ryan Schroepfer caught a 19-yard pass from Bunting a little bit later, as RRC was once again in the red zone.

RRC then converted on a key fourth-down play, a 12-yard screen pass from Bunting to Maras that resulted in a touchdown to cap a 13-play, 77-yard drive. Mason tacked on the extra point, extending the Falcons' lead to 21-0 with 7:23 remaining.

Rogotzke intercepted a deep pass on the ensuing Wildcat possession, but SWU forced RRC to punt and then drove 72 yards on six plays to get on the board.

The two highlight plays of the series were a 29-yard completion from Walker to Kyle Elder and a 24-yard touchdown strike from Walker to Collin. Collin ripped the ball away from a defender along the left sideline and fought his way into the end zone, making the score 21-6 with 44 seconds to go in the first half (SWU's two-point attempt was no good).


The Wildcats started the second half with the ball, looking to build on their momentum. But RRC stopped SWU on three plays, and Hagberg blocked a punt, with the Falcons pouncing on the ball deep in Wildcat territory.

"That was a key play in the game," Jenniges said. "SWU had just scored right before halftime, and we needed to start the second half with a big play. Our special teams units did a really nice job to help us gain field position."

A six-play, 18-yard series, which was aided by a defensive pass interference penalty, was capped by an eight-yard touchdown reception by Rogotzke. Mason's extra-point attempt was blocked by Elder, leaving the Falcons with a 27-6 advantage with 3:50 on the third-quarter clock.

SWU responded with another nice drive, as Walker passed to Jacob Olson for a 12-yard gain over the middle. A six-yard run by Walker plus a Falcons' penalty helped the Wildcats earn a first-and-10 at RRC's 27-yard line.

But a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage was picked off by Maras on the next play. Maras returned his second interception 79 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, stretching RRC's cushion to 33-6 with 1:38 to go.

Wildcats score final touchdown

The Wildcats defended the two-point conversion attempt, as Erik Jass broke up a pass in the end zone. SWU, after an exchange of four punts (two by each team), put together its second scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter.

SWU's Mykil Vonk came up with a key sack to help force a Falcons' punt, and the Wildcats took over at their own 38-yard line with 6:15 remaining. A quick-strike offensive attack ensued, starting with a 52-yard catch-and-run by Alex Meyer on a screen pass from Walker.


Meyer's huge gain down the right sideline gave SWU a first-and-goal from the Falcons' 10-yard line. Following an incomplete pass, Walker scrambled out of the pocket and picked up a 10-yard touchdown dash through the middle of RRC's defense.

The Wildcats' two-point try was unsuccessful, but SWU trimmed the gap to 33-12 with 5:37 remaining. Tim Kennedy boomed the ensuing kick into the end zone for a touchback, and the Wildcats recovered a fumble on RRC's next series.

SWU, though, didn't get anything going on its final two possessions. Ryan Schroepfer intercepted a pass with less than a minute to play, as the Falcons sealed a 33-12 victory on the road.

Mattison and Austin Kruger topped RRC's tackle charts with eight and five stops, respectively.

Both teams play home games Friday. RRC hosts New Ulm Cathedral, while SWU hosts Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in Brewster.

RRC 14 7 12 0 -- 33

SWU 0 6 0 6 -- 12


What To Read Next
Get Local