WILLMAR — Rocori quarterback Camdyn Bauer wasn’t going to be denied on the final drive.

Down 14-8 to Willmar in a Class AAAA top-10 matchup Friday, Bauer converted two fourth downs before capping off the final drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. On the two-point conversion, Bauer bought time with his legs before finding Tucker Haakonson on the back line to put fifth-ranked Rocori up 16-14 with 45 seconds to play.

The ninth-ranked Cardinals got the ball into Spartan territory, but a 45-yard field goal attempt by LaBlue Moo was off the mark, letting Rocori leave Hodapp Field with the victory.

“We had our opportunities,” said Willmar head coach Jon Konold. “There were a lot of turnovers on both sides. Our last two proved costly on the goal line and the interception to end the drive to seal the game. Our kids played their hearts out tonight. It’s a tough one to swallow and I told them they’re going to feel lousy for 24 hours and we’ve got to pick ourselves back up.

“It was a heck of a high school football game. Both teams made plays; they just made a couple more.”

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The Cardinals’ defense came up big in the first half, as Tyler Ludwig forced a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by Jacob Rosendahl, stopping Rocori from scoring first. On the Spartans’ next drive, Willmar got the ball to pop out again, with Kadin Dirkes recovering it at the Cards’ 45.

Willmar capitalized on that opportunity as quarterback Alex Schramm ran 20 yards for the game’s first score with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left before halftime. After the break, Schramm used his legs to reach the end zone again on a 58-yard scamper to put the Cardinals ahead 14-0.

Rocori responded just over a minute later when Bauer connected with Jayden Philippi for a 31-yard touchdown pass.

Willmar had a chance to add another touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, getting the ball down at the 1-yard line. But, a hit on Michael Price popped the ball into the air, where the Spartans recovered it.

It would stay a one-score game when an interception by Brady Linn gave Rocori the ball at its 44-yard line, setting up the game-winning drive. Bauer first converted on a 4th-and-10 with a 13-yard pass to Haakonson. Then on 4th-and-6, Bauer had room to the edge and took off for a 16-yard gain down to the Cardinals’ 10 before scoring two plays later.

The Cardinals host another ranked team next Friday in No. 1 Hutchinson. The Tigers defeated Cambridge-Isanti on Friday, 36-12.

Willmar's Alex Schramm (13) and Jacob Rosendahl (8) go after Rocori receiver Tucker Haakonson, causing a fumble in the second quarter of Friday's game at Hodapp Field. 

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Willmar's Alex Schramm (13) and Jacob Rosendahl (8) go after Rocori receiver Tucker Haakonson, causing a fumble in the second quarter of Friday's game at Hodapp Field. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Rocori 16,

Willmar 14

Rocori (2-0) 0 0 8 8 — 16
Willmar (2-0) 0 7 7 0 — 14
Scoring Plays
W – Alex Schramm 20 run (LaBlue Moo kick)
W – Schramm 58 run (Moo kick)
R – Jayden Philippi 31 pass from Camdyn Bauer (Matthew Torborg pass from Bauer)
R – Bauer 6 run (Haakonson pass from Bauer)

Rocori

First downs: 12 … Penalties: 2-10 … Rushing (Individual and team): Camdyn Bauer 10-35, Brady Linn 6-(-7), Luke Humbert 5-(-1). 21-27 … Passing (Individual and team): Bauer 14-31-215-1, Jack Spanier 0-1-0-0. 14-32-215-1 ... Receiving (Individual and team): Tucker Haakonson 8-141, Jayden Philippi 3-44, Humbert 2-14, Matthew Torborg 1-3 … Interceptions: Linn 1 … Fumble recoveries: Haakonson 1 … Tackles (solo-assist): N/A … QB sacks: N/A

Willmar

First downs: 15 … Penalties: 7-85 … Rushing (Individual and team): Michael Price 21-58, Alex Schramm 18-184, Jacob Streed 3-13. 42-257 … Passing (Individual and team): Schramm 6-13-67-1, J. Streed 3-4-20-0. 9-17-87-1 ... Receiving (Individual and team): Price 3-20, Will Hisken 1-5, Jacob Rosendahl 4-53, Samuel Raitz 1-9 … Interceptions: Kadin Dirkes … Fumble recoveries: Rosendahl 1, Dirkes 1 … Tackles (solo-assist): N/A … QB sacks: N/A