By Dave Tomczak

FRUITPORT – For a brief moment Friday night, the homecoming crowd at Fruitport had a reason to celebrate.

But it didn’t’ last long.

The host Trojans used an electrifying kickoff return to grab an early 8-6 lead, only to watch Reeths-Puffer respond with 42 unanswered points and earn a 48-8 O-K Black Conference win.

The Rockets’ playoff hopes are still alive as they improve to 4-3 overall on the season 2-2 in conference play. Fruitport fell 1-6 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

After Fruitport opened up the game with a three-and-out, the Rockets drove 60 yards on five plays and took a 6-0 lead when quarterback Evan Moskwa hit Carter Fulton from 19 yards out for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but R-P was on the board with 8:57 left in the first quarter.

Fruitport’s Ethan Flores quickly responded, taking a deep kickoff, following his blockers straight up the middle of the field, and outrunning the Rockets’ special teams players for a 85-yard touchdown return.

Reeths-Puffer defenders led by No. 51 Jake Antcliff sack Fruitport quarterback Tyler Zimmerman. Photo/Jason Goorman

Crue Cooper ran the 2-point conversion in and the Trojans led 8-6 with 8:44 left in the first quarter.

But it was all Reeths-Puffer after that.

Three plays into its next possession, Reeths-Puffer’s Brett Buchan scored from a yard out, and the Rockets held a 12-8 lead with 7:54 still on the clock in the opening quarter.

“We’ve talked about football games being roller coasters,” Rockets coach Kyle Jewett said. “Wins can look a lot of different ways. You can win in the first quarter or you can be in a dog fight in the fourth. Good things are going to happen, as long as we have the character to stay the course, which I think we did after that kickoff return.”

The Rockets increased their lead to 18-8 with 3:50 left in the first quarter when Daven Fox finished off an eight-play drive with a 1-yard TD run.

On the first play of the second quarter, Moskwa hit Fulton for a 44-yard TD strike, and R-P was up 26-8 just seven seconds in.

The Rockets scored on all of their second quarter possessions, with Moskwa scoring on a 2-yard run, and hooking up with Fulton again from 27 yards out to increase the lead to 42-8 with 2:11 remaining in the first half.

Both drives were aided by penalties. The teams combined for seven total personal foul penalties in the first half, the one negative on the night for the Rockets.

“I think as a team, we are moving the ball the best we have all year,” Moskwa said. “We worked so hard all season, and the personal fouls are just mental errors on us as a team.”

Fox finished off the first half scoring, returning a punt 55 yards with 16 seconds left before halftime, giving Reeths-Puffer a 48-8 lead and ensuring a running clock for the second half.

Reeths-Puffer finished with 336 total yards in the game, 193 on the ground and 143 through the air.

Moskwa finished 6-for-9 passing, and Fulton ended the night with five receptions for 117 yards.

Buchan led the ground game with nine carries for 99 yards, and Fox added 60 yards on 10 carries. Jalen Williams led the Rocket defense with six tackles.

The Trojans finished with 108 total yards, with Flores leading the ground attack with 11 carries for 43 yards. Freshman quarterback Tyler Zimmerman came on in the second half and finished 5-for-12 for 56 yards.