For the first time since 2007, Rockledge High football will play beyond Week 11.
The Raiders rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit for a 23-21 win at Astronaut on Monday, clinching the runner-up spot from Class 5A, District 13.
Both the Raiders and War Eagles took their turns playing “I don’t want it; you take it” with the playoff spot, but Rockledge scored 20 points in the second half for the win.
“I challenged them at halftime. They got their dander up a little bit,” said Raiders coach Larry Laskowski. “It’s hard to read this team, but they came out here and made a team effort. That’s a good football team, Astronaut.”
The Raiders fumbled four times in the first half and committed a crucial mistake with an illegal procedure penalty on fourth-and-goal from the Astronaut 2, but Laskowski still thought the War Eagles had been setting his team up to get the win.
There was no doubt in the second half. Astronaut fumbled on its own 17 just 46 seconds into the third period, and Justin Weaver got the Raiders going with a 5-yard touchdown run at 9:59 of the quarter.
Ten seconds later, the War Eagles fumbled the ball back, but a 43-yard Rockledge field goal attempt was low.
When the Raiders got the ball again, quarterback Alex Adler found Joe Brown for passes of 10 and 36 yards on the way to cutting the War Eagles lead to 21-17. He finished the drive with a 10-yard scoring toss to Richard Carter just nine seconds into the fourth.
Astronaut then fumbled the kickoff return, and when the Raiders stalled and missed on a 43-yard field goal attempt, a personal foul on the War Eagles kept the drive alive.
On a fourth-and-goal from the 8, Adler hit Brown for the game-winning score.
Merritt Island won the district title with a 46-0 win at Space Coast on Saturday in another game delayed by weather. The Raiders must now regroup before playing the same Vipers on Friday. Astronaut will face cross-town rival Titusville.
Even at times in the second half, the Astronaut offensive line opened gaping holes in the running game, but the War Eagles couldn’t put the ball in the end zone after intermission.
In the first half, Astronaut running back Brandon Wright had scored on runs of 34, 19 and 39 yards. He finished the game with 187 yards on 24 carries, but Astronaut couldn’t get second-half points.
Adler passed for 107 yards, Brown catching four passes for 65. The Raiders went to a heavy dosage of back Justin Weaver to run out the clock. He finished with 59 rushing yards on 12 attempts.