The Roosevelt Rough Riders aren’t used to having to play a city rival in the first round of the playoffs. But this hasn’t been an ordinary season, and though the Lincoln Patriots arrived at Howard Wood Field on Thursday with a 3-6 record, they were coming off their biggest win of the season.
These factors, it turned out, gave the Rough Riders ample reason to be sharp and focused in the first test of their championship quest. Roosevelt was visibly fired up and ready to play from the bell, jumping on Lincoln early and carrying their own momentum to a 53-21 win.
“Anytime we play a Sioux Falls team – the kids know each other and want to play well against those guys,” said Roosevelt coach Kim Nelson. “It’s a good rivalry and it brings out the best in everybody. We won the game and we’re happy about that, but I was really impressed with how Lincoln fought. They should be proud of how they represented themselves.”
Roosevelt (9-1) went 96 yards in eight plays on their opening drive, a fitting salvo that ended with Tyson Jahn’s four-yard touchdown run. Minutes later they turned a short field into a Torren Devericks 38-yard scoring strike to Carter Carstens, and another touchdown pass from Devericks – this time to Nathan Varns – made it 20-0 after the end of the first quarter.
“That was what we wanted to do – jump on them early and don’t give them a chance to breathe,” said Devericks, who completed 19-of-26 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns. “We wanted to take their confidence away and I think we did a good job of that.”
Lincoln answered, with an impressive 10-play, 68-yard drive, cutting the lead to 20-7 on a 17-yard pass from Preston Eisenbraun to Eric Looby, but the Pats could not sustain that offensive success. The Riders got another touchdown run from Jahn just before half to make it 26-7 at the break, and RHS would score the first 20 points of the second half to eliminate any doubt as to which team would be moving on.
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Austin Johnson caught nine passes for 188 yards and two scores, while Varns had five catches for 73 yards. Those two have already both eclipsed the Roosevelt single-season record for receptions. That pair, working with Devericks, has been tough for any team to stop this year.
“They’re good and Torren knows how to get them the ball,” Nelson said. “Lincoln came out in that 7-man front and I wasn’t gonna beat my head against the wall, so we did what we’re good at and came out throwing.”
The highlight of the game for Roosevelt may have been their final score, however, long after the outcome had been decided. The Riders inserted 5-foot-2 senior running back Mosa Moshoeshoe, and after he broke off a 25-yard run, he scored his first career touchdown on a 4-yard run that required him to fight through some defenders.
Moshoeshoe ended the game as Roosevelt’s leading rusher with 28 yards on four carries.
“Mosa’s a fan favorite and a team favorite and just a great kid,” Nelson said. “He worked hard to get in there for that touchdown. That was a good moment for our team.”
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Roosevelt 53, Lincoln 21
RHS – Tyson Jahn 4 run (kick failed)
RHS – Carter Carstens 38 pass from Torren Devericks (Chris Kirschman kick)
RHS – Nathan Varns 7 pass from Devericks (Kirshman kick)
LHS – Eric Looby 17 pass from Preston Eisenbraun (Liam Downey kick)
RHS – Jahn 3 run (kick failed)
RHS – Austin Johnson 6 pass from Devericks (Kirschman kick)
RHS – Johnson 15 pass from Devericks (Kirschman kick)
RHS – Jackson Clark 37 INT return (kick failed)
LHS – Eric Looby 39 pass from Tiegen Salava (Downey kick)
LHS – Brennan Large 1 run (Downey kick)
RHS – Mosa Moshoeshoe 4 run (Kirschman kick)
First Downs 20 18
Rushes-Yards 30-70 20-79
Comp-Att-Int 18-25-1 21-31-0
Passing Yards 200 346
Total Offense 270 419
Penalties-Yards 5-35 6-61
RUSHING: LHS – Corey Fichter 10-57, Large 3-23, Collin Brison 1-20, Chris Fetter 1-12, Stanley Walking Crow 1-11, Looby 1-7, Jesse Nelson 2-6, Jayden Julius 2-5, Cole DeBerg 1-2, Payton Sudenga 2-1, Salava 2-(28), Eisenbraun 3-(-29); RHS – Moshoeshoe 4-28, Jahn 8-25, Brady Dannenbring 4-19, Ryan Anderson 3-7, Varns 1-(-3)
PASSING: LHS – Eisenbraun 11-12-0-87, Salava 7-13-1-113; RHS – Devericks 19-26-0-329, Dannenbring 2-5-0-17
RECEIVING: LHS – Looby 5-85, DeBerg 5-45, Zach Hanson 3-27, Fichter 3-18, Trent Naasz 1-26, Downey 1-(-1); RHS – Johnson 9-188, Varns 5-73, Jahn 2-25, Demareio Hester 2-5, Carstens 1-38, Devlin McManus 1-10, Payton Butler 1-7