Last Friday night’s Section 8AAAA Championship football game at Monticello started off extremely well for the Becker Bulldogs and then — the tables turned as Rocori finished well and sent the undefeated Bulldogs to their first and only loss of the season in the Section finale.
On Becker’s first possession, the Bulldogs used a potent ground game to push back the Spartans and keep them on their heels early. Eventually, Zach Bengtson scrambled around from 21 yards out and found Carter Reckelberg in the end zone for Becker’s first score just five minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs stopped the Spartans dead cold on their first possession and took the ball after a punt — they navigated the length of the field to scored again in what looked like a porous defense. This time, Bengtson found Mitchell Soltau from 26 yards out to go up 14-0 less than three minutes after the first score.
The Bulldogs were flying high and it appeared Becker would complete a season sweep over the Spartans and head to a first round state tournament game this week.
The Spartans had other ideas.
Rocori QB Will Steil became too much to handle for Becker as he took the game into his hands and led a comeback by the Spartans.
The opening for Rocori came early in the second quarter when a long punt pinned the Bullldogs at their four yard line and two plays later, Owen Angell was tackled in the end zone and Rocori was on the board with two points. That seemed to spark the Spartans and Becker struggled to regain the momentum they started the game with.
At the four minute mark, Rocori cashed in again, this time with a touchdown to put them back in the game at 14-9.
Becker mustered little in the early part of the second half and Rocori captured the lead when Steil scored his second TD of the game at the 5:58 mark to go up 15-14. They tried for a two-point conversion and failed so the Bulldogs saw a deficit of one when they started their next drive.
It didn’t take long for Becker to re-capture the lead when Bengtson hit Soltau on a bomb from 79 yards out and the Bulldogs were jubilant with a 21-15 lead with five minutes to go in the third.
On came Steil and he scored his third and fourth TDs in the fourth while gaining 132 yards on the ground. Steil, at 6’2” and 195 pounds, was a bear to bring down for Becker as he handled the ball 31 times. Becker tried to mount a couple comebacks in the fourth, but couldn’t dent the end zone and a late interception sealed the deal for the Spartans.
Rocori moves on the play Orono in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Bulldogs finished with 254 yards total compared to Rocori’s 292. Becker had nine first downs while the Spartans amassed 18. Becker finished with three turnovers to zero for Rocori.
Bengtson finished the game with 140 yards on six-of-17 passing and two TDs. Becker’s leading rusher was Angell, who gained 62 yards on 10 carries, including a 27-yarder.
Soltau had three catches for 110 yards and two scores.
Landen Kujawa led the defense with nine tackles and five assists. He also led the defense on the season with 92 total tackles. Kaden Nicolas had seven tackles and Josh Miller had four tackles, two assists and one tackle for loss.
The Bulldogs finished the season at 9-1. Bengtson amassed 1556 yards through the air while Angell led the rushers with 561yards on the ground. Soltau had 528 receiving yards for the season.
Becker averaged 159 yards a game through their passing attack and 161 from the running backs. The defensive unit totaled 19 sacks and seven interceptions.