Going into its week three matchup with Sturgis, Rapid City Central had scored only 20 points in two losses.
Friday night in the second game of the MidCo Rushmore Bowl, that offense exploded. Central topped Sturgis 54-27, ending a nine-game losing streak for the Cobblers.
“You would have never known there was a losing streak if you were in the locker room,” Central coach Erik Iverson said after the game. “I can’t say enough about them.”
The scoring started with a surprise play from the wing-T Cobblers — a passing play.
Kohl Meisman lofted a beautiful pass to Jeremy Weidman, and he took the ball 56 yards for the game’s first score.
“We have a young kid back there who is stepping up and can sling it,” Iverson said of Meisman. “What I said to the guys was we’ll get it fixed somehow, so the pieces are starting to come together a little bit. This just gives us another aspect of our attack.”
Weidman would be busy, finishing with 20 carries, 133 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, 2-of-2 for 41 yards and a touchdown through the air, and just for good measure, a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He ended the game with seven total touchdowns.
“He’s definitely our spark plug. He’s the guy we look to when we need big plays,” Iverson said of Weidman. “Tonight he was everywhere. We like our chances if we can get him into open space, he’s pretty dangerous.”
The game was special for Weidman, who was visibly relieved after the game that the losing streak was over.
“It feels awesome. I just have to thank my blockers, my lineman for it all,” he said. “I had a blast tonight, we all had fun. It was a fun game.”
Weidman didn’t foresee seven touchdowns when his day started, it just kind of happened.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I was just trying to focus up and get the team focused. Coming back from 0-3 would have been tough, but I feel like we have a lot of momentum heading into next week.”
His second touchdown came with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter. Following an interception by Tejon Rodgers, the Cobblers marched down the field and scored on a 16-yard run from Weidman.
The first quarter ended with a 14-0 Cobbler lead.
Central’s next drive was a long one that ended the same as the previous two, with Weidman finding the end zone.
A 16-play, 68-yard drive ended when Weidman scored on a 1-yard run.
“I’m more proud of the guys up front,” Iverson said. “We had some adversity at the beginning of the game, some guys that weren’t able to play. We had to move some guys around and they stepped up. Jed Olson, I have to say, I’m really proud of him because he stepped up and said, ‘I’ll do it coach.’ They came out focused today.”
Trailing 21-0, the Scoopers put together a drive of their own. A 14-play, 61-yard drive ended when Cedrick Stabber ran the ball in from the 7-yard line.
Central would respond with a drive that was all Weidman. He ran the ball all four plays, got all 67 yards, including a 21-yard scamper to the end zone. Central led 28-7 at the half.
Sturgis got the ball to start the second half and came out on fire. Its first drive marched 74 yards in 9-plays and ended with Stabber scoring from 10-yards out.
The extra point was no good.
Central responded with a play that looked awfully similar to the one that the Philadelphia Eagles used in the Super Bowl to beat the New England Patriots.
Weidman came on a reverse, but instead of running it, he decided to throw it to Wyatt Jungclaus, who was waiting in the back of the end zone. It went down as a 25-yard touchdown, and Central led 34-14 after a missed extra point.
“We’ve been practicing that all week, they copied it from us,” Iverson said with a smile about the similarities between his play and one the Eagles used in their opening night win Thursday.
Sturgis made another drive down the field, this time it ended with Many Gallosa scoring from 8-yards out.
But the Weidman show continued on the ensuing kickoff, when he ducked and dipped his way into open space, and just as Sturgis was making it a game, he took the ball to the house for a touchdown from 98-yards out.
Following the Weidman kickoff return, the floodgates started to open.
Gavin West threw his second pick of the day on the next drive, Gavyn Dansby stepped in front of his throw and just like that, the Cobblers had the ball at the Sturgis 27-yard line. It only took Central two plays, and Meisman found Jungclaus all alone in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown strike.
Central didn’t throw often, but when it did it was effective. Meisman finished 3-of-3 for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
When an eventful third quarter ended, the Cobblers led 47-19.
Sturgis would add a 29-yard run from West, and Central a 5-yard score from Weidman, and the Scoopers didn’t feel in the game in the fourth quarter.
The Scoopers always seemed to be close to tying the score, but the defense was unable to get a stop until the last drive of the game, when the clock ran out before Central could score its ninth touchdown of the game.
“You just can’t build up momentum (when you don’t get a stop),” Sturgis coach Chris Koletzky said. “We’re just not deep enough yet either. Our numbers are up, but we’re not there where we can play certain guys one way. I think our guys got a little tired. We have to get stops on defense and not turn the ball over twice on offense.”
Last season Central beat Sturgis 40-0, so Koletzky said as he tries to build the program he knows there are positives to focus on.
“We told the boys to keep their heads up. It’s not the result we wanted but we definitely had some positives tonight,” he said. “We have to focus on those things as we go into next week and I just told them, you’ve got to be all in.”
Central, 1-2, faces Brandon Valley at home Friday while Sturgis, 1-2, faces St. Thomas More at home next Friday.