Held to its lowest scoring output of the season, the Borgia football Knights fell in the MSHSAA Class 4 District 4 championship game to Rolla, 28-14.
Borgia (11-1) ended the season as the district runner-up for the third time in the six years MSHSAA has used the eight-team district format.
Rolla (7-5) advanced to face Parkway Central (11-1) Friday in the quarterfinal round. The game will take place at Parkway Central starting at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Borgia is putting away the equipment after its best run in two seasons.
“Overall, it was a great, exciting football game for our fans and everybody here,” Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus said. “I’ve got to thank our fans. I’ve got to thank the parents for making the commitment to sending their kids to our school. It’s not easy. Now, we can move on to the next group.”
Until Friday no team had held Borgia to under 35 points in a game until Rolla did so. Rolla also bucked the trend where it had been 1-3 in games where it was held to under 30 points.
“I think our defense played very well,” said Gildehaus. “We bent a little bit, but we stopped them several times. They’re not used to that. Our kids stepped up big time. To hold that team to 28 points, I was very proud of that.”
Rolla gained 519 yards for the game with 284 on the ground and 235 through the air.
The Bulldogs earned 21 first downs and were 5-14 on third-down conversions. Rolla was penalized 10 times for 80 yards.
“They were a very good team,” Gildehaus said. “We knew that. We knew that quarterback was outstanding. We tried to get him and sent everything we had against him. He would sit there. He’s got super quick feet. They’ve got a couple of nice receivers.”
Borgia gained 438 yards with 162 on the ground and 276 through the air. The Knights had 17 first downs and were 2-9 on third-down conversions. Borgia was penalized six times for 35 yards.
“There was an extra challenge tonight,” Gildehaus said. “We felt they didn’t really appreciate where we were and how good we were because of our conference and our No. 1 seed. I challenged the kids and they were ready to play.”
The biggest stat was turnovers. Borgia gave up the ball four times while Rolla didn’t lose the ball.
Rolla’s standout quarterback Josh Pritchett put the Bulldogs on the board first, scoring on a 33-yard run down the right sideline with 1:59 to play in the opening quarter. Borgia had held defensively despite giving the Bulldogs the short field multiple times. Jarett Gabriele kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.
“They had a short field and that’s the way they beat Westminster,” Gildehaus said. “If you make them drive 80 yards, they’re not going to score as often. The short field is an advantage. Good teams take advantage of what they’re given and they did.”
The lead held up for 56 seconds. Jacob Unnerstall found Matt Piontek over the middle and Piontek took it the rest of the way for a 57-yard touchdown with 1:03 to go in the quarter. Jake Nowak’s kick tied it at 7-7.
Borgia’s best quarter all season long was the second. The Knights habitually outscored teams in that quarter. This time, an opponent dominated.
The Bulldogs punched the ball into the end zone twice in the final three minutes. Borgia concentrated on stopping Pritchett and that opened up other options. Facing third and long, Pritchett hit Blaize Klossner for a long gain to the Borgia four. Klossner ran it in on the next play with 2:47 to play. The extra-point kick made it 14-7.
After a Rolla interception, the Bulldogs used a long pass from Pritchett to Tristen O’Neal to set up a one-yard pass from Pritchett to Brett Gonzalez from a yard out on the right side. The extra-point kick made it 21-7 at the intermission.
“That was the ballgame,” Gildehaus said. “They got those there. We couldn’t run the ball. Their linebackers were pretty darned good. They took our veer away a little bit, but I thought we threw the ball well. They had to go into a prevent.”
The third quarter went just like the previous two. The teams traded the ball back and forth until Unnerstall hit Piontek once again over the middle and the Borgia senior outran the defense for an 88-yard touchdown with 1:19 to go in the quarter. Nowak’s kick cut the Rolla lead to 21-14.
Rolla needed the rest of the quarter to crush Borgia’s hopes. Pritchett got loose to go 66 yards for what turned out to be the final touchdown of the game on the last play of the third quarter. The extra-point kick made it 28-14, which is how the game ended.
Borgia got down to the Rolla two in the fourth quarter, but got called for a penalty and couldn’t get into the end zone.
“We were so close,” Gildehaus said. “We were down there first and goal on the two and we had too many men on the field. That hurt. We went to a running formation and got a little confused. It wasn’t meant to be.”
Another pass attempt to the goal line was intercepted by Ahmed Boubacar.
For the game, Unnerstall completed 17 of 31 attempts for 276 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Justin Heggemann ran 10 times for 66 yards. Louie Eckelkamp was next with nine carries for 52 yards.
Matt Piontek took a reverse for 33 yards.
Unnerstall kept it four times for 11 yards. Quinton Poepsel had no gain on a jet sweep.
Matt Piontek caught three passes for 158 yards.
Drew Piontek had seven catches for 50 yards. Poepsel had three catches for 17 yards. Ryan Zeitzmann had two catches for 26 yards. Jonah Chisamore caught two passes for 25 yards.
Dylan Hellebusch had 11 total tackles (10 solo tackles and one assist) with two quarterback sacks.
Matthew Sinnott posted 10 total tackles with eight solo stops.
Heggemann had six tackles with one sack.
Zeitzmann posted seven tackles and one assist. Tyler Glosemeyer had five tackles and one assist. Chris Broeder posted five total stops.
Tyler Patton and Adonis LaBeaume both left the game in the first half due to injuries and Gildehaus said that made a difference on the defensive line.
“Tonight, I’m thankful for these kids and my coaches,” Gildehaus said. “We didn’t win 11 games because of me, we won because of my assistants and the players we have on this football field.”