By PATRICK SLACK
Despite having watched a two-touchdown lead evaporate late in the fourth quarter, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (KMS) had a chance to sneak away with a win late at the Royalton football team’s homecoming, Friday.
The Saints had moved the ball to the Royals’ 11-yard line after a pass interference penalty negated an interception with 1:09 to play and managed to work the ball to the five with three chances to score.
However, the Royals’ defense held their ground in the closing seconds, sealing a 34-33 win on fourth-and-four on a sack by sophomore Jake Wentland.
The offensive fireworks started early in the game, with sophomore Brady Moulzolf connecting with senior Luke Wentland on a 49-yard touchdown pass.
KMS came back to take a 7-6 edge at the end of the first quarter, but Royalton responded immediately in the second quarter on a 66-yard touchdown scamper by junior Cade Stang to regain the lead at 14-7.
The Saints rebounded to go ahead 21-14 at the half, then extended their advantage to 27-14 on a lengthy drive coming out of the break.
Royalton answered on a 2-yard plunge by junior Tony Gadacz to close the gap to 27-21, only for KMS to score on its first play on the ensuing drive to push its lead out to 33-21.
After a squib kick resulted in Royalton starting deep in its own territory, the Royals faked a dive run, allowing Stang to break to the outside and race to the end zone for an 83-yard score, capping a 29-second, three-touchdown stretch that narrowed the Saints’ lead to 33-28.
Royalton had an opportunity to take the lead early in the fourth quarter erased on an interception, but regained possession and marched back to the red zone with less than five minutes to play.
Moulzolf escaped the pocket and juked his way past defenders to convert a fourth-and-5 from the 14, then Gadacz plowed in from one yard out with 4:44 to play to put the Royals ahead by one before the defense clinched the win.
Stang used two deep touchdown runs to lead the Royals offensively with 159 rushing yards on five carries, while Moulzolf completed 5-of-9 passes for 91 yards.
Stang, Wentland and senior Jack Fulford all had 9.5 tackles to pace the Royalton defense, with Stang intercepting a pass and Fulford recovering a fumble.
Gadacz added 7.5 tackles, followed by junior Austin Schmitt (5.5), sophomore Kyle Billmeyer (5), junior Jesse Popp (4) and senior Corey Popp (3.5).
Royalton travels to Wadena-Deer Creek, Wednesday.
Royalton 34, KMS 33
KMS 7 14 12 0 – 33
Royalton 6 8 14 6 – 34
ROY: Luke Wentland 49 pass from Brady Moulzolf (run failed), 10:05.
KMS: Baker 1 run (Baker kick), 1:00.
ROY: Cade Stang 66 run (Jesse Popp pass from Moulzolf), 11:44.
KMS: Rothers 1 run (kick failed), 4:51.
KMS: Rothers 4 run (Jacob pass from Baker), 2:03.
KMS: Rothers 2 run (kick failed), 6:39.
ROY: Tony Gadacz 2 run (Stang kick), 3:35.
KMS: Rothers 66 run (run failed), 3:25.
ROY: Stang 83 run (Stang kick), 3:06.
ROY: Gadacz 1 run (run failed), 4:44.
Royalton—Rushing: Cade Stang, 5-159; Tony Gadacz, 13-54; Brady Moulzolf, 4-11; Tyler Hegna, 6-9. Passing: Moulzolf, 5-9, 91. Receiving: Luke Wentland, 2-65; Stang, 1-17; Jake Wentland, 1-9. Defense: Stang, 9.5 tackles, interception; Jack Fulford, 9.5 tackles, fumble recovery; Luke Wentland, 9.5 tackles; Gadacz, 7.5 tackles; Austin Schmitt, 5.5 tackles; Kyle Billmeyer, 5 tackles; Jesse Popp, 4 tackles; Corey Popp, 3.5 tackles; Matt Fountain, 2.5 tackles.