By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Rocky River football team hung tough for three quarters against visiting Avon, but there was just too much Ross Douglas for the Pirates as the Eagles won 42-21 and secured at least a share of the West Shore Conference title.
With just over 11 minutes left in the game, Rocky River (5-4, 4-2 in the WSC) scored on a 14-yard Keelan Boettcher quarterback keeper, tying the game at 21-21. But on the ensuing Avon possession, Douglas (a University of Michigan recruit) sprinted 64 yards to pay dirt – the fourth of Douglas’ five touchdown runs – to put the Eagles on top for good, and take the wind out of the Pirates’ sails.
“We had them right where we wanted them,” Rocky River head coach Rick Adams said. “If we made some tackles, we’d be right there. It’s frustrating. It’s a life lesson for these guys, and unfortunately it’s a tough one.”
Avon put up the first points in the game on a Douglas 6-yard run, to make it 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Rocky River responded in the second quarter with a Michael Dickey 21-yard touchdown to tie the game. Avon came right back with Douglas, scoring on a 4-yard run, to give the Eagles the advantage at 14-7. The Pirates mounted another scoring drive, capped by Bob Osborn’s leaping reception in the endzone to tie the game at 14-14. But Douglas again found a hole and rumbled for a 58-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 21-14 going into halftime.
The third quarter was a defensive struggle, as both teams went scoreless, before the Pirates mounted an 11-play, 47-yard drive that culminated in Boettcher’s touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter to tie it up at 21-21.
Douglas scored twice, the first on a 65-yard run and the second on a 1-yard run, in the fourth quarter, before Avon’s Logan Juhl intercepted a Boettcher pass, setting up a Mark Kvach 2-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles the victory.
Douglas ended up rushing for 214 yards and five touchdowns for Avon.
“We lost our composure a couple of times and got a couple of penalties that backed us up,” Adams said. “Losing Michael Dickey in the first half (to injury) really hurt us, too, because a big part of our game plan was to go to a bigger backfield set, pound (the ball) and take some time off the clock. Not having him in there, especially in the second half, really hurt.”
The Pirates will end their regular season Friday at Vermilion at 7 p.m.
AROUND THE WESTSHORE:
LUTHERAN WEST (4-5, 3-3 in the Patriot Athletic Conference, Stripes Division) blanked Oberlin 37-0. The Longhorns drew first blood on a 6-yard run by Chris Ranc. Ranc also scored on a two-point conversion to give Lutheran West an 8-0 first-quarter lead. Early in the second quarter, strong safety Izaak Zrnich intercepted a Marvin Jackson pass and scampered 35 yards for a touchdown. Chris Ranc converted another two-point play, and the Longhorns took a 16-0 lead into the locker room.
Zrnich struck again early in the third quarter on a 35-yard run. Ryan O’Connor scored on a fake extra point try, and the Longhorns’ lead stretched to 24-0.
The Longhorns padded their lead with touchdown runs by Ryan O’Connor and senior Ryan Mordaunt to get to the winning margin.
The Longhorn defense was outstanding – defensive coordinator Frank Petroff had his troops playing inspired ball – limiting the Phoenix to only 25 yards in total offense. It was the Longhorns’ third shutout of the season.
The senior-night crowd was treated to an outstanding rushing performance by senior running backs Chris Ranc, Izaak Zrnich, Ryan O’Connor and Ryan Mordaunt. The quartet rushed for a combined total of 304 yards.
“Our entire team put in a solid performance tonight,” head coach Dave Stupka said. “We are especially happy for this exceptional group of seniors who have given it their all the entire season. We are excited to get a chance to compete one more time.”
The Longhorns will conclude their season this Friday at rival Fairview at 7p.m.
FAIRVIEW (3-6, 3-3 in the PAC) fell to Columbia 35-7. The Warriors will complete the season at home against Lutheran West on Friday at 7 p.m.
NORTH OLMSTED (7-2, 4-2 in the Southwestern Conference) improved its playoff chances with a resounding 22-0 victory over Amherst. Tom Rodriguez had a nice night for the Eagles with three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown, an Amherst fumble recovery and a pass interception, as well as two extra point kicks. Brad Novak was the offensive leader with 55 yards rushing and 88 yards passing, including one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown. Tom Sutton became the second-half workhorse for the Eagles, carrying the ball just seven times but gaining 77 yards helping the Eagles to run out the clock. The North Olmsted defense was able to pitch a shutout by intercepting two Comets passes and recovering two Comets fumbles. The Eagles will finish the regular season Friday at Olmsted Falls at 7 p.m.
OLMSTED FALLS (1-8, 1-5 in the SWC) fell in a hard-fought battle to Avon Lake, 21-17. Mike Gib led the Bulldogs in rushing with 224 yards on 29 carries. Gib also led Olmsted Falls in receiving with one catch for 23 yards. The Bulldogs finish the season at home against rival North Olmsted on Friday at 7 p.m.
LAKEWOOD (4-5, 3-3 in the WSC) shut out Vermilion 38-0. The Rangers end the season at Elyria Catholic Friday at 7 p.m.