The Rushford-Peterson Trojans were tough to bring down Friday.
The Bethlehem Academy (0-2) Cardinals dropped 39-18 in their home opener.
“Those Three Rivers Conference teams, what they used to be down there, they’re big and physical and play that same type of ball,” said BA coach Jim Beckmann. “Once again our tackling, we didn’t do a real good job of hitting and wrapping up. They were able to get to the edge a little bit.”
Triton Meldahl was a tough man to bring down for R-P, which kept BA off balance throughout the night with a mix of run and pass.
He ran 25 times for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
Turnovers plagued BA in its week 1 loss at Mayer Lutheran. Those woes reversed in the first play of the game.
BA’s Josh Oathoudt jumped on an R-P fumble on the opening kickoff to give his team the ball at the R-P 27.
The Cards were pushed back four yards and turned it over on downs.
Starting at their 31, the Trojans’ first play was a 19-yard pass from Malachi Bunke to Kobe Lind for 19 yards.
Bunke finished 10-for-15 through the air for 128 yards and two scores on an efficient night.
A nine play, 69-yard drive finished in a 19-yard touchdown catch by Justin Ruberg to put R-P up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Oathoudt rushed 42 yards on the first play to get BA to the 10. He later found the end zone on a sweep to the left, but the touchdown was wiped away due to a holding call on 3rd-and-goal from the 3.
The drive stalled in the red zone and a 27-yard field goal try by Elliot Smith missed the mark.
A 47 yd rush by Oathoudt + a horse collar tackle had BA in the red zone. Cards had this TD wiped away on a holding call. An eventual FG misses and it’s still 7-0 RP pic.twitter.com/yFO5fuZpYF— Mike Randleman (@FDNmike) September 7, 2019Coming up short proved costly as it took R-P just three plays to punch it in on a 59-yard run by Lind to make it 14-0 with 3 minutes, 26 seconds still left in the first.
BA surpassed 300 yards of offense but couldn’t capitalize enough at the end of drives to stay tight with R-P.
One drive that did end in points was a drive that began in the first quarter and ended in the second when quarterback Jack Jandro took it himself up the middle for an 11-yard score. That cut it to 14-6 with 10:13 until halftime.
Jack Jandro takes it himself for the score. BA cuts it to 14-6, 10:13 2Q pic.twitter.com/1ci6Gk8wTe— Mike Randleman (@FDNmike) September 7, 2019R-P responded with a 55-yard drive ending in a Lind 17-yard touchdown catch to make it 20-6.
The Trojans scored again on a Meldahl 18-yard rush.
The Cards were able to regain some momentum before the break knowing they’d be receiving to start the second half. They drove 65 yards in 55 seconds thanks to a 54-yard reception by Spencer Ell. That set up a two-yard Oathoudt TD two plays later.
R-P took a 26-12 lead into halftime.HALFTIME: Rushford-Peterson 26, Bethlehem Academy 12 thanks to this Oathoudt TD late in the half.BA will receive to start the second half. pic.twitter.com/ryojwGwrRv— Mike Randleman (@FDNmike) September 7, 2019
The Cards needed to score right away in the second half to keep up with the Trojans’ pace. Instead, R-P began to salt the game away with a defensive three-and-out and a quick score on a 43-yard Meldahl rush.
That was the only scoring in the third as the Trojans led 33-12.
A 25-yard interception return for a touchdown for R-P in the fourth where Jandro was hit as he threw was the final nail in the coffin to make it 39-12.
BA scored in the closing minutes on a Justin Simones four-yard rush.
The Cardinals are back on the road 7 p.m. Friday at Fillmore Central (0-2). The Falcons lost 41-7 vs. United South Central and 34-13 at Goodhue.
Rushford-Peterson 39, Bethlehem Academy 18
R — 14 12 7 6
B — 0 12 0 6
BA offensive statistics — Passing: Jack Jandro 4-12, 90 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; Bo Dienst 1-1, 23 yards; Josh Oathoudt 0-3, 0 yards … Rushing: Oathoudt 17-82, TD; Brady Strodtman 9-59; Justin Simones 4-38; Jandro 8-28; Lucas Linnemann 1-13; Jason Shuda 1-2 … Receiving: Spencer Ell 1-54; Strodtman 3-35; Charlie King 1-24
BA defensive statistics — Tackles: Ell, Strodtman 5; Jandro 4; Elliot Smith, Oathoudt 3; Linnemann, Riley Kangas, Dienst, Jack Ernste 2.5; Ben Cohen, Aiden Tobin 2; Andrew Donahue 1
BA special teams — Kicking: Smith 0-1 FG … Punting: Ell 2-57 … Kick return: Oathoudt 3-72; Strodtman 1-14
R-P offensive statistics — Passing: Malachi Bunke 10-15, 128 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT … Rushing: Triton Meldahl 25-266, 2 TD; Kobe Lind 1-59, TD; Peyton Morrison 2-30; Bunke 2-8; Hayden Kahoun 1-0; Tristyn Hegland 1-(-2) … Receiving: Lind 5-75, TD; Justin Ruberg 4-45, TD; Meldahl 1-8
Team statistics — Total plays: B 59, R 45 … Total offense: R 489, B 320 … Rushing: R 30-361, 6 TD; B 43-207, 3 TD … Passing: R 10-15, 128 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; B 5-16, 113 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT … Time of possession: B 27:03, R 20:57 … Turnovers: R 2, B 1 … First downs: R 19, B 18 … Third downs: B 7-15, R 3-8 … Fourth downs: R 2-3, B 2-5 … Penalties: R 8-70, B 6-50