The Bulldogs came into Saturday's semifinal game at Rochester - not just carrying to torch for Harrisburg -but for all of Southern Illinois.
That torched shined bright for a little while until the Rockets extinguished the flame with a 49-22 victory Saturday evening at Rochester.
The Rockets red glared to a 49-0 first half lead thanks to four touchdowns by Wisconsin recruit Garrett Dooley.
Dooley ran wild picking up 125 yards on 12 carries in just under a quarter and a half.
Rochester (12-1) jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and tacked of four in the second.
Of Rochester's four possessions in the second quarter, the Rockets scored on each one.
Meanwhile, Harrisburg was held to just three first downs in the first half and 40 yards of offense.
It was a tough start for the Bulldogs as they were slow to establish a running game, this after Harrisburg's leading rusher Dylan Hathaway left the game after the first play from scrimmage.
"I feel bad for Dylan and he's had a great year. We're not making excuses, I think even if we do have them, it doesn't change the outcome of this ballgame too much. They're just that good, an outstanding club, who has three players going on to play Division 1 or Division 1-AA football."
More so, as good as Rochester's offense was - its defense was even better.
"They play and played extremely fast, probably fast than any team we have on our schedule. It's hard to prepare your kids for that, because to try and run their plays during the week is hard to execute when you can't simulate that speed in practice."
As the sun was setting in Rochester and ultimately on the Bulldogs' season, Harrisburg had one last silver lining in its successful season.
The Bulldogs were able to score three late touchdowns in the forth quarter.
From that point on, Roper said his kids were playing not just for pride, but for the town of Harrisburg.
"When you're down like that and you go in at halftime and you know its going to be continuous clock, you just try to tell your kids, 'Hey, right now we have to play for our town and play for our pride.' So I'm proud of the way our kids came back in the second half and finished strong."
Capel Henshaw scored twice, once from five yards out and another from 12 yards out on an option pitch from quarterback Ryne Roper.
Justin Younger capped off the scoring for the Bulldogs, gutting the defense for a 57-yard run with 2:06 to play.
Page 2 of 2 - Roper added that the success Harrisburg had this season will not w forgotten anytime soon.
"We've had a pretty special season. I knew coming in that we had a good group, but if you would have told me towards the end that we would have been playing in 4A and have a chance to go to the state tournament, I would have took it.
"I wish we would have landed in 3A and we didn't. Today was one of those days where maybe we wish we had, but to be playing in the semifinals for the a chance to go to state and finish with an 11-2 record is amazing for our kids. I don't think they understand how good of year they've had at this point. I know they're disappointed, but when they look back, they'll see what a tremendous year they had."
Harrisburg 00 00 00 22 - 22
Rochester 21 28 00 00 - 49
ROC - Green 5 run (Fitzgerald kick), 10:04
ROC - Dooley 17 pass from Green (Fitzsimmons kick), 3:53
ROC - Dooley 5 run (Fitzsimmons kick), 0:44
ROC- Dooley 3 run (Fitzsimmons kick), 9:47
ROC - Dooley 7 run (Fitzsimmons kick), 8:01
ROC - Pasley 47 pass from Green (Fitzsimmons kick), 7:08
ROC - Berberet 5 run (Fitzsimmons kick), 2:26
HBG - Henshaw 5 run (kick failed) 11:15
HBG - Henshaw 12 run (Henshaw run), 6:57
HBG - Younger 57 run (Henshaw pass from Roper) 2:06
First Downs 16 22
Total Net Yards 217 424
Rushes-Yards 37-149 38-238
Passing 68 186
Comp-Att-Int 6-16-0 11-14-0
RUSHING: HBG - Roper 3-(-6), Hathaway 1-2, Henshaw 11-29, Younger 15-122, Lewis 4-(-4), Thompson 3-6. ROC - Green 7-35, Dooley 12-122, Berberet 4-29, Kelley 4-3, Piper 2-2, Sembell 2-13, Bucher 4-20, Kelly 1-1, Call 2-13.
PASSING: HBG - Roper 6-16-0-68. ROC - Green 10-13-0-170, Kelley 1-1-0-16.
RECEIVING: HBG - Lewis 1-4, Buchanan 1-7, Henshaw 2-22, Miller 1-0, Reeder 1-35, Henshaw 2-22. ROC - Pasley 4-83, Dooley 3-26, Berberet 1-23, Heissinger 1-24, Baker 2-30.