By Frank Aceto | Record Publishing
The Streetsboro football team is blessed with speed, athleticism and depth. But the Rockets apparently have one major weakness.
They're not taking care of the ball.
Thanks to six turnovers, Streetsboro fell to 1-1 on the season after losing to McDonald 20-13 Friday night at Glinatsis Stadium.
The Rockets lost five fumbles and also had a pass picked off.
Still, Streetsboro had a chance to tie or even win the game in the closing minutes.
Fittingly, that possession ended with its final fumble near midfield.
"There is no question these kids fought and competed," Rockets head coach John Arlesic said. "But there is no way you're going to have a chance to win if you have six turnovers."
For the most part, Streetsboro did some positive things that bode well for the future.
The Rockets controlled the ball for the most part and got another strong game from running back Johnathan Williams, who finished with nine carries for 86 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown run that cut the Blue Devils' advantage to 14-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Despite giving up some big plays, Streetsboro's defense managed to make critical plays when it needed them.
Nevertheless, much of that effort turned out to be wasted since the Rockets kept giving the ball away.
It didn't help that two of Streetsboro's leaders were forced to leave the game in the first quarter. Wide receiver Devin Rencher and offensive lineman/linebacker Jacob Armbrecht went to the trainer's room because of undisclosed injuries.
"We had a couple of key guys banged up, and that put a lot more pressure on our young guys," Arlesic said.
The Rockets' first possession might have been an indication of what kind of night they were going to have.
After sophomore defensive back Jerry Judd thwarted the Blue Devils' promising opening drive with an interception at the 1-yard line, Streetsboro marched 77 yards and ate up more than seven minutes off the clock.
Alas, the Rockets' scintillating possession came to an abrupt halt when McDonald defensive lineman Carson Williams recovered a fumble at Streetsboro's 22.
But the Rockets were in control in the first 24 minutes.
One possession later, Streetsboro moved 57 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Prince Franklin, who finished with 38 yards on 16 carries, concluded the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
While McDonald moved the ball throughout the first half, the Rockets managed to keep the Blue Devils off the scoreboard.
With less than two minutes left in the second quarter, Ethan Flick intercepted McDonald quarterback Zack Conley's pass and returned it 32 yards.
Once again, though, Streetsboro gave it back. On the last play of the half, Judd's long pass was intercepted by Blue Devils senior defensive end Josiah Lovejoy, who almost made the play of the night.
Lovejoy intercepted the pass near the Rockets' 10 and raced past midfield before tripping over his own teammate. At that point, Lovejoy had nothing but green in front of him.
McDonald (2-0) took control in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils got on the board with a safety when a snap on an attempted punt sailed out of the end zone with 10:06 left in quarter.
It got worse for Streetsboro.
McDonald got a 49-yard TD from senior running back Matt Morrell to take an 8-7 lead, then went up 14-8 when Cameron Ifft raced into the end zone from 17 yards.
Fortunately for the Rockets, the Blue Devils had issues on special teams. The passed failed on McDonald's first score and the Blue Devils were unable to convert the point-after try on the second touchdown.
After Williams busted loose for his 39-yard score early in the fourth quarter, Streetsboro took a huge gamble.
The Rockets tried to go for the 2-point conversion, but McDonald's defense stuffed Streetsboro on a running play.
"It's not like either team was scoring a lot of points," Arlesic said. "I thought it was going to be the last score of the game."
The Blue Devils concluded the scoring when backup quarterback Ben Carkido, a sophomore, scored on a 25-yard run with 2:02 left in the game. Carkido took over behind center when Conley left the game with an undisclosed injury in the first half.
McDonald outgained the Rockets 315-160 on the ground. Ifft led the Blue Devils' rushing attack with 124 yards on 21 carries. Jake Reckard did most of the damage for McDonald in the first half with 81 yards. He finished with 10 carries for 76 yards.
Streetsboro is scheduled to visit Youngstown Christian Sept. 14 at Poland Bulldog Stadium.
"This season isn't over," Arlesic said. "We just have to overcome our mistakes. We have a good football team. We just can't turn the ball over six times."