Rocori quarterback Jack Steil (1) celebrated after scoring a touchdown in the first half. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • firstname.lastname@example.org
After a first-half feeling out period, Rocori found its swagger to start the second half. However it came about, the Spartans went with the feeling, overwhelming Winona by scoring 41 second-half points to pull away for a 48-24 victory.
Despite forcing the Winhawks into three first-half turnovers, Rocori trailed 14-7 at halftime Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The locker room message from Spartans coach James Herberg included some technical adjustments, but it was mostly about getting that winning feeling back.
“The biggest adjustment was just calming our heads down,” Herberg said. “We’re a team that has a lot of mojo and plays together. We weren’t carrying that mojo and swagger. We told them to relax and play your game.”
It didn’t take long for the Spartans (10-2) to turn Herberg’s words into actions. They took the second-half kickoff and went 74 yards in three plays, tying the game on a 23-yard score by Brady Linn.
After forcing Winona (11-1) to go three-and-out, Rocori needed just four plays to score again, with quarterback Jack Steil diving over from 1 yard out.
Rocori exploded for 41 points in the second half, turning a 14-7 halftime deficit into a 48-24 rout of previously undefeated Winona to advance to the Class 4A championship game.
Quarterback Jack Steil rushed for 168 yards and five touchdowns and passed for 134 yards for Rocori, which scored two touchdowns in the first 4:05 of the third quarter to take the lead for good Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Tucker Haakonson had three interceptions for Rocori. Winona (11-1) turned the ball over five times.
Check back later for more on the game.