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Ness City caps perfect season wtih 8-Man I crown

Published Nov. 17 at 11:01 p.m. | Last updated Nov. 17 at 11:02 p.m.

Ness City’s Koltyn Ratliff came up with a unique term for the Eagles’ outstanding defensive unit after the 8-Man Division I championship on Saturday.

“Momentum movers,” he said.

No doubt, Ness City featured something special when opponents had the football this season. It lasted through the final game, as Ness City used a blocked punt recovery and an interception return for touchdowns to fuel a 40-8 victory over Rock Hills at Fischer Field.

The Eagles capped a 13-0 season by outscoring their opponents 639-70. Saturday’s game was just the second that wasn’t decided by the 45-point mercy rule.

Ratliff, a defensive back and quarterback, intercepted a Rock Hills screen pass and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown. He also passed for 104 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 44 yards and another score. He was aided offensively by senior fullback Dalton Gantz, who gained 150 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Ness City limited Rock Hills to 150 yards. Clay Cosand and Joel Broeckelman, who each entered the game with more than 1,300 rushing yards for Rock Hills, combined for just 59 on 26 attempts.

“They play incredibly fast,” Rock Hills coach Sam Meyers said. “We knew they were fast on film, but they were even faster in person. They get below your pad level and it makes them very difficult to move.”

Rock Hills (11-2) stayed even for more than a quarter as it tried to get its offense going. The Grizzlies stopped a 19-play drive by Ness City five yards short of the goal line early in the second quarter. But forced to punt on their ensuing possession, Ness City’s Tucker VonLehe blocked it and Will Frusher recovered it in the end zone for the game’s first points.

“Once we get our defense rolling, the offense comes next,” Ratliff said.

The blocked punt ignited the first of two 20-point quarters for Ness City. Gantz stretched high to pull in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Ratliff with 4:08 remaining in the second. Then the Eagles struck quickly. Gantz took a snap out of the wildcat formation and raced 61 yards to boost Ness City’s lead to 20-0.

Ratliff’s offensive and defensive touchdowns stretched Ness City’s lead to 32-0 with 8:21 remaining. After Rock Hills broke through with a 2-yard touchdown by Cosand, Gantz answered with a 22-yard touchdown run for Ness City’s final points.

Rock Hills (11-2)00088
Ness City (13-0)02002040

NC – Frusher blocked punt recovery (run failed)

NC – Gantz 7 pass from Ratliff (run failed)

NC – Gantz 61 run (Hawkins pass from Ratliff)

NC – Ratliff 1 run (pass failed)

NC – Ratliff 12 interception return (run failed)

RH – Cosand 2 run (Cosand pass from Copple)

NC – Gantz 22 run (Garrett Flax run)

Individual Statistics

Rushing – Rock Hills, Cosand 16-39, Joel Broeckelman 10-20, Aaron Broeckelman 7-10, Dean 2-6, Copple 3-(-7); Ness City, Gantz 23-150, Garrett Flax 20-64, Ratliff 10-44, Flores 3-12.

Passing – Rock Hills, Copple 6-13-2-82; Ness City, Ratliff 10-12-1-104.

Receiving – Rock Hills, Flinn 3-38, Joel Broeckelman 2-34, Cosand 1-10; Ness City, Gantz 3-49, Garrett Flax 2-20, Frusher 2-18, Frank 2-10, Hawkins 1-7.