Posted on

Rockets find a way at Bloomer

Spencer-Columbus head football coach Jason Gorst had a recipe for a possible WIAA Division 5 Level 1 playoff upset victory: limit turnovers, limit penalties, and maximize the minutes the offense controls the football. Those ingredients all came into play as the Rockets scored a 20-12 win over favored Bloomer on Oct. 25.

By virtue of its modest 5-4 season record, Spencer-Columbus was given a #6 seed in its 8-team Division 5 regional playoff pool. At 7-2 on the season, Bloomer earned a #3 seed and thus a first-round home game, but that higher seeding did not take into account the fact that two of the Rockets’ losses were to top ranked and undefeated teams (Stratford and Eau Claire Regis). By winning the small games within the larger one, Gorst surmised, the Rockets could steal a Level 1 win.

The Rockets followed Gorst’s script to perfection. They did not turn the ball over all night, while Bloomer fumbled away possession once and threw an interception. Spencer-Columbus was flagged for just two penalties for 15 yards while Bloomer was penalized six times for 65 yards. And perhaps more crucially in a relatively low-scoring game, Spencer Columbus ran almost twice as many offensive plays (65) as did the Blackhawks (33).

“We focused on penalties, turnovers and time of possession, and won all three,” Gorst said.

The Rockets grabbed a first-quarter lead on Eden Jacobson’s 3-yard run. Hayden Bauman was stopped short on the conversion run attempt, but the Rockets led 6-0.

Later in the first period, Bloomer tied the ball game on a 22-yard run. It then took the lead just before the half, on a 2-yard run just 27 seconds before the break.

Trailing 12-6 at the half, the Rockets found ways to control the game through the third and fourth quarters. Spencer-Columbus took the lead with 5:03 to play in the third period when quarterback Gage Stratman connected with Brett Kasch for a 20-yard touchdown play. Stratman then hit Bacon with another pass for the 2-point conversion and a 14-12 lead.

With the defense limiting Bloomer to 206 total yards, Spencer-Columbus tacked on a late touchdown to secure the win. Stratman and Bacon connected on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 2:32 left on the game clock for the 20-12 lead that held up.

“I am really proud of our guys,” Gorst said. “They had a gutty performance.”

That performance included domination in time of possession. The Rockets held the ball for almost 35 1/2 minutes of game time, while Bloomer had it for just 12:27.

The Rocket offense managed 266 total yards, most of it on the ground. The Rockets ran 61 times for 236 yards, and picked up another 30 through the air on 3-4 passing from Stratman. Bacon led the rushing attack with 85 yards on 25 carries. Jacobson added 63 yards on 17 attempts and Bauman gained 60 yards on 11 tries.

Bloomer ran 21 times for 98 yards. The Blackhawks threw 12 passes with nine completions for 108 yards.

Bauman had the pass interception for the Rockets. Bacon had six solo tackles and assisted on three others.

Spencer-Columbus’ reward for beating Bloomer is a rematch with Stratford on the Tigers’ home field on Nov. 1. Stratford whipped the Rockets 41-0 on the first night of the season, and also ended the Rockets’ 2018 season with a 22-6 win in a Division 5 state semi-final game played in near-blizzard conditions last November in Medford.