RAPID RIVER - Seven touchdowns and 320 yards would be enough to pace almost any offense but for Rapid River's Jake Pearson that was just one half of work, as he lead the Rockets to a 60-25 win over the Posen Vikings on Friday in the first round of eight-man football playoffs.
Rapid River's first two drives yielded no first downs as they lost the ball on a fumble during their first possession and a turnover-on-downs after three incomplete passes on their second possession.
Posen took advantage, scoring with 2:37 left in the first quarter on a four play drive capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run by Nick Hincka to take a 7-0 lead.
Jon Young | Daily Press
Rapid River’s Jake Pearson (7) breaks away for a touchdown run in the second quarter against Posen in the first round of playoffs at Rapid River.
"That's huge, you've got a team coming in with nothing to lose and we've been in that situation before and you throw everything at the other team and they certainly did," said Rockets head coach Steve Ostrenga.
Despite falling behind early, Rapid River stuck with the passing game and were able to find holes in the Vikings secondary. Ostrenga said Pearson showed a lot of poise in the pocket.
"He was very patience, we're getting the passing game going," he said. "They brought pressure and he was cool back there and handled it pretty well looking for his receivers. I was a little nervous for awhile because we missed some of those guys. They were giving it to us we just had to hit them."
P - Nich Hincha 11-yard run (XP good), 2:37
R - Mike Cases 46-yard pass from Jake Pearson (2pt pass good), 2:25
R - Jake Pearson 7-yard run (2pt pass good), 15.9
R - Jake Pearson 62-yard run (2pt run good), 7:35
R - Pearson 7-yard run (2pt run good), 4:10
R - Pat Pryal 56-yard pass from Pearson (2pt run good), 2:11
P - Hincha 69-yard run (xp no good), 1:09
R - Casey 44-yard pass from Pearson (2pt run good), 45.5
R - Pearson 35-yard run (2pt no good), 21.8
R - Pearson 10-yard run (2pt no good), 7:38
P - Matthew Wisniewski 63-yard pass from N. Hincha (xp no good), 5:38
P - Leon Beccard 19-yard pass from N. Hincha (xp no good), 4:50.
Luckily for the Rockets they started to hit them, as Pearson threw for 146 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
"They stacked the box a little bit, almost like a 4-4, to pinch everything inside," Pearson said.
"We saw that they were uptight like that so we tried to take advantage of the pass as much as we could."
Pearson found junior MIke Casey on a 46-yard touchdown strike for the Rockets first score with 2:20 left in the first quarter. He also caught the two-point conversion, giving Rapid River a 8-7 lead. Casey had 102 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the first half.
Pearson took to the ground for the next three Rockets scores before finding senior Pat Pryal for a 56-yard touchdown pass with two minutes left in the first half, giving the Rockets 40-13 lead.
"They always play a big roll in our offense, passing, running, catching whatever, they always play a big role," Pearson said.
The Vikings offense gave Rapid River trouble in the first quarter as they went to a spread look that left only one man on the line and three receivers on both ends.
"They went to that spread and No. 20 ( quarterback Travis Sharpe) is shifty back there," Ostrenga said. "We were slipping and sliding and at times. I think we were just taking bad angles so we had to adjust our angles and our reads a little bit and once we did that we were better."
The Vikings didn't get any help from an injury standpoint. Already playing without their starting quarterback and center, Posen lost Sharpe late in the second quarter with a hand injury.
"I was just proud of my kids, the effort they gave, they knew coming in we were without three starters and they didn't come up here to roll over," said Vikings head coach Wayne Karsten. "They came out here and gave them their best shot in the first quarter and that maybe stirred up the masses a little bit."
The Rockets scored their final touchdown of the game on their first possession of the third quarter. Pearson capped off a eight-play drive with a 10-touchdown, his fifth rushing score of the contest.
"Our offensive line was stellar today," Pearson said. "They gave me plenty of time to make a decision and get the throw off or run it if I had to it."
The Rockets host Engadine (6-4) next week. Rapid River has beaten the Eagles twice this season but Ostrenga said their is still room for improvement.
"We've got to keep working on fundamentals," he said. "We made some mistakes tonight and we've got to answer the bell from the get go, that's been a problem for us. The other team comes in fired up and they're hitting us with some things and we just got to come out fast and clean a few things up."