It may not have been conventional at times, but it certainly was convincing.
Aberdeen Central turned in one big play after another to knock off top-rated Yankton 40-28 at Swisher Field Friday night. It marked the first time the Golden Eagles have beaten their longtime Eastern South Dakota Conference foe since 2009.
“We grew as a ball club tonight,” said Central coach Scott Svendsen. “We took a big step tonight.”
Central scored on four huge plays and used a couple more to set up two other touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Sam Rohlfs was involved in nearly every one of them.
The first score came on a 3rd-and-21 busted play when Rohlfs got outside and sprinted 59 yards to the end zone. After the Bucks tied the contest, Rohlfs produced a similar play when he raced past the Yankton defense for 51 yards and another TD.
“Thank God for number 10,” Svendsen said of his quarterback. ” He handles things so good under pressure. He’s got great poise. He stays calm and he does his deal.”
Rohlfs did his deal one more time in the opening half, this time converting a 4th-and-1 into a 35-yard touchdown run.
A couple of his long runs came when the ball was snapped over his head, he scrambled and made something special out of nothing.
“The broken plays tonight, you put it in 10’s hands and anything can happen from anywhere on the field,” Svendsen said.
Still, the game was tight at the half as the Bucks scored right before the break to trail by just seven points.
Yankton ran its offense at breakneck speed during the contest, often snapping the ball right after an official spotted it for play.
As a result, it took a bit of a toll on the Golden Eagles defense.
“We were all really, really tired,” said Central senior Collin Huff. “We just knew that his was a really tough game and it would have been really good if we won, so we just kept pushing.”
Huff said they tried to simulate the up-tempo offense in practice, but it wasn’t nearly as fast as what happened during the game.
“We did a little bit,” Huff said, “but it was not like that.”
While the pace may have impacted Central, it also had an effect on Yankton as the Bucks appeared to wear down a bit in the final half.
“I said this before the game, if we keep it close at half, I felt like we could come into the second half and mid to late third quarter it would be our ballgame,” Svendsen said. “Just because we felt we were playing more kids on one side of the ball than they were. They had kids on both sides of the ball.”
Meanwhile, Rohlfs was up to his tricks again in the second half.
First he connected with Jacob Merxbauer for a 45-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-13 to give the Eagles a little breathing room.
When the Bucks responded to close the deficit to 34-28, Rohlfs then converted two fourth-down plays with passes to Alec Voegele. The first was a pin-point pass that Voegele high-pointed over a defender for a 32-yard gain.
“That was a great throw by Sam,” Voegele said. “I’m happy I came down with it.”
The second was a 15-yard touchdown pass which capped the scoring on the evening.
Voegele, who finished 144 yards receiving, wasn’t even going to come out for football this fall, but changed his mind after practice had already started.
“I made the right decision, though. I’m happy I came out,” Voegele said. “I came out like a week and half before the first game. Coach got me the plays and I learned them and here we are.”
Central’s other score was a Karson Carda showcase. The junior carried five times on that drive for 64 yards. He led the Eagles with 137 yards on the ground. The drive was capped off on a 2-yard TD run by Austin Erickson.
Rohlfs finished the contest with 305 yards passing and another 98 rushing (he would have been well over 100 yards without a loss of yardage for sacks). Merxbauer caught four passes for 99 yards.
The Golden Eagles are now 2-0 on the season. They will take to the road for the first time this year when they play at Mitchell one week from tonight.
“Mitchell has a very good ball club. Their head coach does a fine job,” Svendsen said. “First game for us on the road. How are we going to handle a different environment? It’s not going to be the environment we’ve been used to the first two games. We have to get focused on what we can control, not what we can’t control.”
Yankton (1-1) 0 14 14 0 – 28
Aberdeen Central (2-0) 0 21 13 6 – 40
AC – Sam Rohlfs 59 run (Tayden Brownson kick), 11:49.
Y – Cody Oswald 33 pass from Rugby Ryken (Trevor Paulsen kick), 8:36.
AC – Rohlfs 51 run (Brownson kick), 3:09.
AC – Rohlfs 35 run (Brownson kick), :47.9.
Y – Oswald 15 pass from Ryken (Paulsen kick), :13.1
Y – Gavin Swanson 49 run (Paulsen kick), 10:58.
AC – Austin Erickson 2 run (Brownson kick), 7:24.
AC – Jacob Merxbauer 45 pass from Rohlfs (kick failed), 2:43.
Y – James Stewart 1 run (Paulsen kick), :32.7.
AC – Alec Voegele 15 pass from Rohlfs (pass failed), 6:46.
OFFENSE: Yankton rushing 31-137 (Gavin Swanson 30-122, Rugby Ryken 12-14), passing 18-29-1 for 239 (Ryken 18-29-1 for 239), receiving (Cody Oswald 4-83, Jaden Kral 4-56, Max Raab 2-39, Tyler Sohler 3-32, Swanson 3-27, Cameron Zahrbock 2-22), first downs 20; Aberdeen Central rushing 45-290 (Karson Carda 23-137, Sam Rohlfs 15-98, Austin Erickson 5-45, Avery Ligon 2-10), passing 16-21-0 for 305 (Rohlfs 16-21-0 for 305), receiving (Alec Voegele 4-144, Jacob Merxbauer 4-99, Carda 2-24, Erickson 2-15, Drew Salfrank 2-13, Collin Huff 2-10), first downs 21.
DEFENSE: Yankton, James Stewart 9 tackles including a sack, Samuel Kampshoff 6 tackles including a sack, Adam Kurtenbach 6 tackles; Aberdeen Central, Jacob Waltman 5 tackles including a sack, Brian Johnson 4 tackles, Collin Huff 4 tackles, Max Leberman 4 tackles, Ethan Orr 3 tackles including two sacks.
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