ROSE HILL – It has been nine years since the Rockets had put together a winning streak of more than three games until tonight. Rose Hill beat up on an already wounded Winfield 48-7 on Friday to win their fourth straight game of the season.
2011 is the last time the Rockets won four or more games. They had a 13-game winning streak that season as they won the state title.
"We’re told about that 2011 a lot," senior Spencer Nolan said. "We want to do what they did and this is a start."
The Rocket’s season really has turned for the better after starting 0-3. There was hope even in those losses as they played arguably one of the toughest stretches in Kansas High School Football.
They blew a lead and fell in overtime to Collegiate and lesser teams could have mentally folded it in after a game like that.
"I have said in a lot of interviews, when we played with Collegiate it just proved we can hang with anybody," Rose Hill head coach Lee Weber said.
The Rockets have been proving it so over the last four weeks, lambasting almost every in their wake. They have won three games by double digits and the last two by 40 or more.
"That’s how football is," Weber said. "Sometimes you’re young and you take your lumps and you have to play before you’re ready. We have to keep building and eventually we’ll get our shot."
It was the defense that set them apart from Winfield. They held the Vikings to 2 of 11 on third down and as Winfield was without their leading rusher, Ar’mon Acosta, they had no real offensive identity outside of some smashmouth football and quarterback keepers.
After Winfield scored with 5:07 remaining in the first half to even the game at 7-all, Rose Hill responded with an 11-play, 91-yard drive that finished off with a 3-yard touchdown run by Nolan, his second of the game.
Rose Hill’s defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense went to work, as Bryson Evans went 4 of 4 passing for 52 yards in only 25 seconds to make it 21-7 at halftime.
"Our line is really the difference," Nolan said. "Ever since that Augusta game, that’s when things started to click for us,"
The avalanche started to fall for Rose Hill as they marched down the field and scored on their first possession of the second half. This time, it was Evans finding Keagan Beavers on a screen play where Beavers was wide open for the easy touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Beavers made Winfield pay as he took a punt back 72 yards for the touchdown and the 27-7 lead with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter. Beavers had initially run into a log jam of defenders but broke one tackle and split out to the right side where he was escorted by a handful of Rockets for the touchdown.
The Rockets defense held Winfield to only 182 yards of offense and only 58 of those were in the second half. There were four straight possessions in the second half where Winfield faced a third down behind the sticks.
"Our kids are a different group," Weber said. "They’ve worked really hard and gotten some breaks here and there."
Nolan added in his third touchdown of the night midway through the fourth with a run right up the middle and sophomore Bowden Whitted cashed in the final touchdown.
Nolan finished with 131 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns. Evans finished 14 of 20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Bischler had five catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
With so many of the players being multi-year starters, the victories are sweeter as seniors start to see their season and careers wind down.
"We’ve gone through a lot," Nolan said. "A lot of us having been starting since we were sophomores so to see all of this turn into wins is amazing."
After winning four games the previous two seasons, the Rockets have won four this season.
"We’re not thinking this is our last home game," Nolan said. "We’re wanting to host a home game and go on from there."
Rose Hill is expected to travel to Independence on Friday, Oct. 23 for the Week 8 game. Independence is currently coming out of quarantine but the game is expected to be played.
"This is a fun bunch of kids," Weber said. "I’m so happy for them."
Winfield – 0;7;0;0; – 7
Rose Hill – 7;14;13;14 – 48
1Q (1:34) RH – 3-yard TD run by Spencer Nolan (Teagan Cobb kick good).
2Q (5:07) WIN – 4-yard TD pass from Riley Yingling to Eli Heger (Bryant kick good).
2Q (1:20) RH – 3-yard TD run by Nolan (Cobb kick good).
2Q (0:10) RH – 2-yard TD pass from Bryson Evans to Bryce Bischler (Cobb kick good).
3Q (9:13) RH – 17-yard TD pass from Evans to Jayden Jones (Cobb kick good).
3Q (1:10) RH – 72-yard punt return for a TD by Beavers (run failed).
4Q (7:06) RH – 7-yard TD run by Nolan (Cobb kick good).
4Q (1:10) RH – 4-yard TD run by Bowden Whitted (Zach Hoang kick good).
RUSHING: Winfield – Thomas 17-55; Tate 11-36; Yingling 9-25;Beckwith 1-1. Rose Hill – Nolan 21-131; Beavers 6-58; Whitted 4-30; Evans 2-9.
PASSING C-A-I-YD: Winfield – Yingling 6-14-0-75. Rose Hill – Evans 14-20-2-219
RECEIVING: Winfield – E. Heger 2-19; Ledford 1-37; Harper 1-9; Beckwith 1-6; G. Heger 1-4. Rose Hill – Bischler 5-86; Kiser 4-53; Green 2-40; Kochick 2-23; Jones 1-17.