A second half outburst for the Alexandria football team’s offense gave them plenty of breathing room Saturday in a 36-10 homecoming victory over Rocori.

The Cardinals were only up 14-10 midway through the third quarter before the offense took over. They scored three touchdowns through the third and fourth quarters to lock up the first Alexandria win of the season. Four forced turnovers in the second half by the Alexandria defense helped fuel the outburst.

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Before Saturday’s game, the Alexandria defense talked about their lack of turnovers this season. Their plan to force more paid off in the 26-point victory.

“We hadn’t had any turnovers, actually, all year until this game,” said Michael Helgeson, who intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. “So we were talking about getting some, and we got some. We had a pretty solid game.”

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Jaran Roste had an active game as he threw for two touchdowns and also rushed for two. Roste said the difference for the offense today compared to the first three games of the season was their ability to finish drives with touchdowns.

“The last game, against Brainerd, we didn’t finish,” Roste said. “We were in the red zone plenty of times and couldn’t execute. This time we finished the drives when we were in the red zone, and that was the difference in the game.”

Justin Cumberbatch rushed for 122 yards and one touchdown. After the ground game had been a struggle at times, he said the Cardinals came together to move the ball against Rocori.

“It’s a team effort,” Cumberbatch said. “When we get the blocking going we can get the ball moving, and that’s exactly what we did.”

The scoring started for the Cardinals in the first quarter as Cumberbatch capped off a 44-yard drive with a 9-yard rushing touchdown. A missed extra point attempt gave Alexandria a 6-0 lead.

Joe Gorghuber then put the Cardinals up 14-0 with a 22-yard touchdown reception. Alexandria also converted a two-point conversion after the play.

But Rocori would cut into the lead in the second quarter as starting quarterback Alex Budde scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion for the Spartans made the score 14-8, where it stayed until halftime.

Halftime lasted longer than expected as lightning delayed the start of the second half for more than an hour.

Once it began, the Spartans cut the Alexandria lead to 14-10 at the start of the third quarter as Roste was tackled in his own end zone for a safety. But the safety ended the Rocori scoring for the day.

Roste rushed for two touchdowns in the second half, and the Alexandria scoring was capped in the fourth quarter as he threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Amundson.

After the game, Empting said he liked the performance by the Alexandria offense, especially in the second half. Empting also credited the Cardinals’ defense for hustling to the ball and creating turnovers against Rocori.

“Our kids were all over the place,” Empting said. “They were flying around; it just looked like they were having fun.”

The win improved Alexandria to 1-3 this season.