North Central holds off Rapid River

POWERS — The North Central Jets presented Leo Gorzinski with his first coaching victory Thursday night, outlasting the Rapid River Rockets 26-20 in a Great Lakes Eight Conference crossover football game.

North Central sealed the verdict in this eight-player match-up in the final 92 seconds as senior guard Caleb Walters and junior guard Darin Redinger stopped senior quarterback Brent Lundquist on a fourth-and-one play from the Jets’ 14-yard line.

By then the Rockets were out of time-outs, enabling the Jets to run out the clock.

“Our kids reached in and made the play,” Gorzinski said. “We put a lot of effort into our defense this week. We needed to get this one. This was one of those games nobody deserved to lose. Hats off to Rapid River. They came ready to play. It feels great to get that first one.”

Junior Noah Gorzinski scored the game-winner on a 72-yard kickoff return with 3:50 left to play just 10 seconds after Rapid River junior running back Tyler Sundling tied the score at 20 on a seven-yard run through the left side.

“We’re fortunate enough to have a few playmakers on this team,” said coach Gorzinski. “You got to put in their hands and these players stepped up. This was a pretty intense game all the way.”

Rapid River, which trailed 8-0 at halftime, trimmed its deficit to two points on Lundquist’s 27-yard pass to Sundling slightly more than 3 1/2 minutes into the third stanza.

North Central hiked its lead to 14-6 on Noah Gorzinski’s 37-yard keeper through the right side with 4:11 left in the third.

The Rockets then tied the score on Lundquist’s 15-yard pass to senior Nate Olson with 11:04 left in the contest.

North Central regained the lead at 20-14 on a 28-yard pass through the middle by senior Brady Eichmeier to Noah Gorzinski at 5:55, set up moments earlier on an interception by senior linebacker Carter Holle.

The Jets opened the game with a 13-play drive, climaxed on Noah Gorzinski’s 10-yard pass to Eichmeier for an 8-0 lead.

North Central kept Rapid River pinned inside its own 25 most of the first half, except for a drive midway through the second in which the Rockets reached the Jets’ 20 before losing a fumble.

Rapid River turned the ball five times. North Central, which had eight turnovers in a season-opening 64-34 loss to Engadine, had none this time.

“It wasn’t just turnovers,” said Rockets’ coach Steve Ostrenga. “It was a matter of execution. The first half was a struggle. I thought our defense played great. We had fourth down a few times, but it was a matter of them making great plays and us not getting that extra push. We need to clean some things up.”

Rapid River outgained the Jets 308-224 in total offense, rushing for 170 and Lundquist hitting 10-of-15 passes for 138 yards and an interception. Sundling ran 29 times for 167.

North Central finished with 117 yards rushing, with Noah Gorzinski carrying 16 times for 86. Gorzinski also completed 8-of-17 passes for 65 and Eichmeier was 2-of-3 passing for 42.

Bentley, who left the contest with a hip injury eight seconds into the fourth quarter, rushed nine times for 30.

“It was gut-check time after Travis went out and the kids responded,” said coach Gorzinski. “All week the kids got preached to about ball security. Only when we get turnovers, we need to capitalize on some of those.”

North Central (1-1), which also won the jayvee game 52-12, hosts Rudyard Sept. 8. The Rockets (1-1) host Carney-Nadeau Sept. 7.

Rapid River 0 0 6 14 — 20

North Central 8 0 6 12 — 26

First Quarter

NC — N. Gorzinski, 10-yard pass to Eichmeyer (N. Gorzinski pass to L. Gorzinski), 5:11

Third Quarter

RR — Lundquist, 27-yard pass to Sundling (pass failed), 8:36

NC — N. Gorzinski, 37-yard run (pass failed), 4:11

Fourth Quarter

RR — Lundquist, 15-yard pass to Olson (Sundling run), 11:04

NC — Eichmeyer, 28-yard pass to N. Gorzinski (run failed), 5:55

RR — Sundling, 7-yard run (pass failed), 4:00

NC — L. Gorzinski, 72-yard kickoff return (pass failed), 3:50