Down 30-8 midway through the second quarter, Ar-We-Va rallied for a come-from-behind 56-50 victory in overtime against Griswold in the Eight-Man season opener for both teams on Friday night at Westside.
The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards in total offense.
The game literally began Westside’s 150th Sesquicentennial celebration weekend with a loud bang.
Ar-We-Va gained 504 offensive yards, including 364 rushing and 140 passing, while Griswold finished with 440 total yards (405 rushing, 35 passing).
Down by 16 at halftime at 30-14, Ar-We-Va rallied to pull to within 38-34 with 3:55 left in the third and then took its first lead of the game at 42-38 with 2:23 remaining on a 39-yard scoring pass from Cooper Kock to Will Ragaller and a Ragaller two-point conversion run.
Griswold then scored on a 54-yard run with 2:05 left in the third to take a 44-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
A 16-yard TD pass from Ragaller to Kock and a Ragaller two-point run with 10:55 left in the fourth put Ar-We-Va up 50-44.
Then with 5:25 left to play, Griswold scored on a 49-yard run to tie the contest at 50-50.
That would be it in regulation, as the the two teams went to overtime.
Griswold got the ball first and Ar-We-Va’s defense stopped the Tigers just short of the end zone on a fourth-down run.
The Rockets then got their opportunity and two runs by Damon Ehlers of eight yards and two yards were all they needed, as the sophomore bolted over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
"This was a great win for a fairly-young and inexperienced group of kids, as I was extremely impressed with their resilience," commented Ar-We-Va coach Chris Petersen.
"There were times when these guys could have folded, but they kept fighting their way back into the game," he added.
Damon Ehlers ran the ball 28 times for 173 yards with three rushing TDs of 7, 3 and 2 yards.
Ragaller had a terrific all-around night on both sides of the ball.
The sophomore ran 32 times for 191 yards with TD runs of 7 and 8 yards, hauled in three passes for 114 yards with a 39-yard TD reception and completed two of three passes for 26 yards with TD throws of 10 yards and 16 yards to Kock.
Ragaller also had 134 yards on kickoff returns and led the Rocket defense with 14 tackles.
Kock, who switched off with Ragaller at quarterback throughout the game, completed 3-of-10 passes for 114 yards with the one TD throw of 39 yards to Ragaller and one interception.
"We made some adjustments defensively at halftime and came out a much more physical team," Petersen said.
"We were able to mentally and physically wear Griswold down. Our young kids showed tremendous growth from the first quarter to overtime, and the amount of character and grit that they possess is really something special."
"We made a number of mental and physical mistakes that can be expected out of a very young and inexperienced team, but I was unbelievably proud of the way our kids battled to win this football game," Petersen said.
Besides Ragaller’s 14 tackles on defense, Damon Ehlers contributed 8.5 tackles. Kock added 6.5 tackles.
Dalton Ehlers, the lone senior on the team, added 4.5 tackles with two fumble recoveries. Riley Neumann also had 3.5 tackles for the Rockets, which will take on Boyer Valley in a non-district game this Friday night at Dunlap.