Rogers’ 18th home opener in program history ended in victory, even if the crowd was less than capacity.
The Royals (2-0, 2-0), who are ranked third in Class 5A according to the Wednesday, Oct. 14 AP poll, defeated Buffalo (0-2, 0-1) 34-13 on Friday, Oct. 15 at Rogers High School. Five different Royals scored touchdowns. It was Rogers’ first win at home since their 40-36 upset win over Elk River on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.
Head coach Marc Franz said the competitive nature of the seniors took over after Rogers trailed Buffalo 6-0 early in the first quarter.
“They new it was going to be a game to be played for four quarters,” Franz said. “They [the Bison] had the first drive. Give them credit. Buffalo has a lot of nice, skilled players on their team. They had a good game plan together and I liked how our kids responded.”
Buffalo took the lead on the first drive of the game. At 9:13 of the first quarter, Bison senior running back Luke Gunderson ran for three yards for his second touchdown of the season, giving Buffalo a 6-0 lead. The extra-point attempt by kicker C.J. Fogelquist was unsuccessful.
The Royals took the lead at 3:35 of the first quarter when senior running back Logan O’Neil ran eight yards for his first touchdown of the season. The extra point by kicker Dylan Honnoll was successful, giving Rogers a 7-6 lead.
Towards the end of the second quarter, Rogers junior linebacker Eric Pearson blocked a Buffalo punt and ran 12 yards for his first touchdown of the season to give the Elks a 13-6 lead. Honnoll’s extra point attempt was unsuccessful.
Gunderson tied the game at 8:09 of the third quarter when he ran three yards for his third touchdown of the season. Fogelquist’s extra point was successful, making it 13-13.
Rogers senior running back Ben Dahl broke the tie at 3:25 of the third quarter when he ran 22 yards for his fourth touchdown of the season. Dahl’s touchdown made the score 20-13 Royals. Senior wide receiver Michael Olowo extended Rogers’ lead to 27-13 when he ran a Buffalo punt 33 yards for his first touchdown of the season. Senior quarterback Zach Evenson put the game away when he ran 54 yards for his first touchdown of the season at 2:47 of the fourth quarter. Honnoll’s extra point made the score 34-13.
Franz said it was different to play a home opener without the student section and with only 250 spectators in attendance.
“I defenitely prefer past seasons where our whole crowd is there,” he said. “It’s a fun atmosphere at home games at Rogers High School. I definitely missed the crowd, especially the student section.
Offensive Player of the Game
Olowo’s touchdown broke the game open for Rogers and didn’t give Buffalo a chance to mount a comeback.
Defensive Player of the Game
Olowo and senior defensive back Remy Darr each had one interception.
Franz said the defense has been successful so fan this season in holding teams to 14 points or less this season because of the defensive line.
“They [the defensive line] do their own holding the line of scrimmage or controlling the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We do have quite a bit of experience at linebacker returning. Experience helps so much in a year like this year. The experience returning at [the] linebacker [position] is big. It takes the whole team. It takes the whole unit. Actually, we’re not entirely happy with where we’re at defensively. We have a tendency to be giving up big plays. There’s definitely things to work on and improve.”
Rogers’ game against St. Cloud Tech that was scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23 was cancelled because members of the Tigers have tested positive for COVID-19. The Tigers did not play their season opener on Oct. 9 and will not play the Royals on Friday. Rogers is currently looking for an opponent. If an opponent can’t be found for the game, Rogers’ next game will be against Monticello on Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. at Monticello High School.
Franz said that a team forfeiting a game has never happened in his 18 seasons as head coach of the Royals.
“It’s unique,” Franz said. “[We’ve] never had to look for varsity opponents in the middle of the year. We’re trying to match up with other teams that’ve had their opponent forfeit against them. We don’t have anything finalized yet, but I expect us to be able to find someone by Friday.”
Buffalo was scheduled to play No. 7 Andover (2-0, 1-0) on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at Andover High School.