By Brady Ambrose
It took most of the game, but the Caledonia Warriors held off Rushford-Peterson (R-P) Friday night to remain undefeated with a hard-fought, 15-7 win over the Trojans at Caledonia Friday night.
R-P gave the Warriors their toughest test so far this season as the two teams battled back and forth in a defensive struggle. Both squads spent most of the game on their opponent’s side of the 50 yard line.
It took an interception by Caledonia’s Jacob Swindell to spark the Warriors in the early going. After a 21 yard field goal by Levi Schmitz gave Caledonia a 3-0 lead with 2:57 left in the first quarter, the Trojans put together a long drive and threatened to take the lead.
Starting at their own 32 yard line at the start of the second quarter, R-P got an 11 yard run from Steve Adcock on second and 11. A holding penalty pushed the Trojans back five yards and forced a third and 11 at the R-P 49. Trojan quarterback Tyler McLellan hit Zach Boehmke with a 26 yard strike and only a touchdown-saving tackle by Jacob Swindell at the Caledonia 12 yard line prevented R-P from taking the lead.
Three plays later Swindell came up with another big play when on fourth and six the Caledonia senior made a leaping interception in the right corner of the end zone to end the R-P scoring threat.
The Swindell interception then set up the Warriors first touchdown of the game.
On the first play from scrimmage quarterback Alex Varney took off around the right side and raced 80 yards down the sideline to give Caledonia a 9-0 lead with 7:05 left in the first half.
The two teams traded possessions the rest of the way and the Warriors took a 9-0 lead into halftime.
“I knew Davin (R-P coach Davin Thompson) had a great ball club and stuff, and they came out and punched us in the mouth,” said Caledonia coach Brent Schroeder.
Rushford-Peterson got right back into the game on their second possession of the second half. Starting at their own 15 yard line Caledonia moved out to the 30 on back-to-back carries by Swindell. But on the next play Zach Kasten had the ball stripped away, and the Trojans recovered at the Warrior 26. Two plays later McLellan scampered 25 yards around the right end to cut the Caledonia lead to 9-7 with over five minutes left in the third quarter.
Caledonia then looked to regain control when on the ensuing kickoff Ryan Pitts took the ball and rumbled the length of the field for an apparent touchdown, but the Warriors were called for an illegal block in the back, and instead started at their own 45 yard line.
Kasten picked up five yards on first down and put the Warriors in R-P territory with a seven yard run to the 43. After a five yard facemask call was tacked on, Caledonia had the ball first and 10 at the Trojan 39 yard line.
Swindell added a four yard run, and a personal foul on the Trojans put the Warriors in business at the R-P 21 yard line. On third and six Pitts picked up a first down to the seven yard line and Varney scored his second touchdown of the night on the next play to put Caledonia up 15-7 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
The Caledonia defense then came up big down the stretch. After trading possessions again to start the fourth quarter, the Trojans put together a drive. Starting at their own 45 yard line Boehmke gained nine yards to the Caledonia 46 and McLellan picked up a first down to the 44. A delay of game call pushed R-P back five yards, and on the next play McLellan was sacked by Kasten and Brad Strub for a three yard loss.
Strub then tackled Boehmke for no gain, and on fourth and six Varney intercepted a McLellan pass and returnd it to the Rushford-Peterson 25 yard line.
But on the first play Strub fumbled and the Trojans recovered and the Trojans mounted one more drive. Boehmke gained nine yards on first down and two plays later McLellan rumbled to the 43 for an eight yard gain.
McLellan picked up four more yards and Boehmke was stuffed after a one yard gain on the next play. McLellan picked up four yards on third and five.
On fourth and one at the Caledonia 48 yard line a huge call, a delay of game penalty against Rushford-Peterson, pushed them back to their own 47. On fourth and six the Warriors stopped Casey McLellan a yard short of the first down at the Caledonia 47 yard line.
With 95 seconds to play Varney was stopped for no gain on first down but picked up eight yards on the next play to the R-P 45.
Varney, who finished the game with 114 yards on 14 carries, added eight more on the next play to the Trojan’s 37, and the Warriors ran out the clock to get the win.
Schroeder said, “I give R-P a ton of credit. I knew exactly what they were and I expect them to go far. I want to compliment both teams on playing hard; it was a good classic high school football game.”
Schroeder also complimented Varney, the senior signal caller for the Warriors. “He did a nice job of not taking everything on his shoulders and making the plays when they were given to him. He did a nice job and really kept his poise on both sides of the ball. He just played hard all the time and that’s all we ask.”
Caledonia will have another big test this Friday when they host Chatfield (5-0, 2-0).
“It isn’t getting any easier from here on out,” Schroeder said, “It’s a great test and they all are going to be now. That’s what we expect and that’s what it should be every Friday.”
Rush-Peterson 0 0 7 0 — 7
Caledonia 3 6 6 0 — 15
First quarter: C—FG Schmitz 21.
Second quarter: C—Varney 80 run (kick failed).
Third quarter: R-P—McLeallan 25 run (Courrier kick); C—Varney 8 run (kick failed).
Rushing: R-P—Adcock 12-47; C—Varney 14-114. Passing: R-P—McLeallan 5-15-2-59, Koenen 0-5-1-0; C—Varney 4-10-0-18, DeMorett 1-3-1-31.
Receiving: R-P—Boehnke 2-43; C—Buttell 2-43.
Total yards: R-P: 129-59—188; C: 183-49—232.
Fumbles-lost: R-P—1-0; C—3-2.
Records: R-P 3-2, 1-1; C 5-0, 2-0.