By Eric Clutter | Correspondent
It was anybody's game after the first 24 minutes of play Friday night at Roosevelt Stadium as Kent Roosevelt took a slim 7-6 lead over neighboring Stow to the locker room.
Once the third quarter started, however, it was all Bulldogs.
Taking advantage of Rough Riders' mistakes and the insertion of Brian Groves at quarterback, Stow overwhelmed Roosevelt 29-7 in the final two quarters to come away with a 35-14 non-league victory.
The win was Stow's second in a row over the Rough Riders, and also improved the squad's mark to 2-0 on this young season.
"The kids came out with an attitude that they weren't going to lose this game, and they played that way," said fourth-year Stow head coach Mark Nori. "It wasn't anything we (coaching staff) did or called. They just had a resolve about them that they were going to walk off the field winners, and they did it."
The turning point of the game came after the opening series of the second half, when the Bulldogs' defense forced a Roosevelt punt.
Standing near his own goal line, Roosevelt punter Corey Spicer could not corral a high snap that sailed over his head and eventually went out the back of the end zone, giving the visitors an 8-7 edge.
After the ensuing Roosevelt free kick, the Bulldogs drove down into field-goal range but missed a 25-yard attempt.
The next time Stow got the ball, Nori put Groves, a senior receiver, under center in place of starter Andrew Wargo. The results were immediate as Groves connected with senior Zaire Lewis from 31 yards out to increase the Bulldogs' cushion to 15-7.
"He gives us a great change of pace," said Nori. "He is an incredible athlete, and we thought there wasn't much else working for us so we stuck him in at quarterback and fortunately it worked to our advantage."
Two minutes into the final stanza, Groves was able to avoid a Roosevelt blitz and run 18 yards into the end zone to extend the gap to 21-7.
The Stow defense, stout all night, sealed the contest three minutes later when sophomore Jakob Madgar fell on Roosevelt quarterback Dustin Monaco's fumble in the end zone.
Monaco hit Spicer on a short scoring pass late in the stanza, but Groves answered that with a 3-yard scoring run.
Outside of allowing a 70-yard first-half scoring drive, the Bulldogs' defense made things rough on the Roosevelt offense, intercepting two Monaco passes, knocking down several others at the line of scrimmage and forcing Monaco's fumble.
"Two weeks in a row they have been spectacular," said Nori of the defense. "They have been the catalyst for us on offense and coming up with big plays all over the place. They put points on the board for us. They have just been playing outstanding for the last two weeks."
In addition to the turnovers, the Rough Riders (1-1) were flagged for nine penalties for the game.
"We made a lot of mistakes that hurt us the second half," said Roosevelt head coach John Nemec. "Just blown assignments, little things. Our kids kind of let their heads down. And Stow played a great second half. They deserved to win. They outplayed us (in the second half). It probably ended up the way it should.
"We have a lot of things to work on. But I have a great group of kids here and they will be fine."
Wargo found Lewis with a 30-yard TD pass in the opening minute of the second quarter to put Stow up 6-0.
Monaco then directed a Roosevelt scoring march that was capped by a 4-yard pass to Luther Fortson with 5:11 showing in the half.
But after that, it was all Stow.