Trailing 23-7 late in the third quarter with the fall wind howling and flurries of snow, Rogers had quite the icy hill to climb if the Royals were going to defeat Robbinsdale Armstrong.
But despite the deficit and cold weather, Rogers did what it has done all season—rely on star running Anthony Powell and get some timely contributions from others. That helped the Royals to a 34-23 win on Saturday at Osseo High School in the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Both teams entered Saturday’s game with running backs who had helped lead the way this season. For Robbinsdale Armstrong, it was Reggie Carter. He showed a spark early but left with an injury and finished with just seven carries for 53 yards.
The Falcons showed their depth with the play of quarterback Jamen Malone and running back Kevon Johnson. Malone ran for 97 yards and a touchdown and threw two passing touchdowns and finished with 132 yards in the air.
“Armstrong just has so many weapons and so much talent over there,” Rogers coach Marc Franz said. “We were nervous the whole game going through.”
Malone’s second touchdown of the game came late in the third quarter when he connected with wideout Seth Newbern for a 37-yard score that put the Falcons ahead 23-7.
Despite a two-score deficit, Rogers kept handing the ball off to Powell. He kicked off the rally just a few plays after the Robbinsdale Armstrong touchdown as he scampered 57 yards and converted the two-point conversion to make it 23-15 heading into the fourth quarter.
“To be honest, I kind of expected it,” Rogers running back/defensive back Calvin Kolleh said. “That’s what he does. Our linemen picked it up.”
That touchdown kickstarted the Royals' offense and defense. They quickly got the ball back and Powell worked his magic again, scoring from 50 yards out. He finished the day with 289 yards on 33 carries.
“Powell’s been such a big part of our offense,” Franz said. “We’re lucky to have him and can rely on him for big plays.”
From there, others began to step up for Rogers. Trailing 23-21 after Powell’s third score of the day, the defense once again forced a Falcon punt. The Royals moved the ball ahead. Kolleh then put his team ahead on a 20-yard counter run that sent the Rogers’ contingency into a frenzy.
“I came around the corner and was like, ‘Oh it’s open,’” Kolleh said. “I just hoped my speed would get me there. I think I’m mostly a DB, but when they give me a chance to carry the ball, I take it.”
The Royal defense took the field ready to defend its two-point lead but found itself celebrating one play later. Thomas Dickerson scooped up a Malone fumble and rumbled 20 yards into the end zone to make it 27 unanswered points for Rogers.
“I was hyped,” Kolleh said. “That’s every lineman’s dream. I was yelling and screaming.”
Kolleh once again stepped up as Robbinsdale Armstrong continued to attempt a late rally. He intercepted Malone to ice the victory for the Royals.
“We just had a lot of guys step up,” Franz said. “It’s just nice to see.”
As the Rogers players and fans celebrated on the frigid field a chant of “Back to the Bank” broke out. Next week’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium will mark the team’s second consecutive trip to downtown Minneapolis for the Class 5A semifinals.
“We’ve had good luck outside,” Franz said. “But we’re excited to go back to the Bank.”
Trailing 23-7 late in the third quarter, Rogers rallied with 27 unanswered points as the Royals came back to defeat Robbinsdale Armstrong 34-23 on Saturday at Osseo High School.
The Falcons (8-3) had things rolling despite an injury to star running back Reggie Carter. Kevon Johnson filled in, rushing for 71 yards on 15 carries.
Robbinsdale Armstrong quarterback Jamen Malone did the majority of the work on the ground and in the air. He finished the game with 132 yards passing and two touchdowns while rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The Royals (9-3) did not go away from their workhorse running back Anthony Powell, despite a two-score deficit. He carried the ball 33 times for 289 yards. He sparked the comeback with a 57-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and a 50-yard scamper in the fourth quarter and also scored the team’s first touchdown in the first half.
Trailing 23-21 in the fourth quarter, Rogers changed it up, giving the ball to Calvin Kolleh, who ran for a 20-yard touchdown to give the Royals the lead for good.
One play later, Thomas Dickerson picked up a Malone fumble and took it 20 yards to put Rogers ahead by two scores. Kolleh capped things off with an interception late as the Royals move on to next week’s Class 5A semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.
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