By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
If ever there was a game of two halves, Friday's contest between Kent Roosevelt and Cuyahoga Falls was it.
In the first half, Roosevelt's offense was downright awful.
However, the Rough Riders experienced a dramatic turnaround after the half.
Roosevelt scored 34 unanswered second-half points to take a 34-10 win away from Cuyahoga Falls' Clifford Stadium.
"It was really bad in the first half," said Roosevelt coach John Nemec. "Our defense did a great job keeping us in the game. The kids overall played great in the second half on both sides of the ball. I'm proud of the way they came back."
Meanwhile, Falls coach Sean Flaherty lamented the fact that his team couldn't sustain a good first-half effort.
"We couldn't find any rhythm tonight," Flaherty said. "They're a very quick team, especially with their outside backers. They cut us down every time we tried to go outside."
Offensively, the first half was a nightmare for the Rough Riders.
Roosevelt found itself down 10-0 at halftime and was lucky to be only that far down.
The Rough Riders had the same number of first downs as turnovers in the first half (four), while quarterback Dustin Monaco completed three pass to his receivers and three to Falls.
The first interception set the Black Tigers up at the Roosevelt 15-yard line.
However, Falls got nothing out of the great field position, as a fourth-and-5 pass from quarterback Mike Kaser fell incomplete.
Roosevelt did a good job containing Falls' running game
However, the run-oriented Black Tigers got the first score of the game on a pass play, as Kaser hit running back Drake Reid with a 62-yard bomb down the sideline to the Riders 3.
Kaser completed twice as many passes in the first half as he did in Falls' first two games. He finished 5-of-12 for 83 yards passing.
"We knew we were going to have to pass the ball more this week than the first two weeks," Flaherty said.
Two plays later, Kaser pushed in a 1-yard quarterback sneak for the touchdown, making it 7-0 with 9:25 left in the half.
Falls couldn't take advantage of any of Monaco's interceptions, but a muffed Roosevelt punt late in the first half set up Falls' second score.
Tyler Green booted a 32-yard field with 54 seconds left in the half, giving Falls a 10-0 lead at half.
However, Roosevelt's offense awoke in the second half.
"We started trapping up front, and that really helped us," said Nemec.
After stopping Falls three-and-out on its first drive, Monaco completed five straight passes and then ran in a 13-yard scramble with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
Roosevelt's next drive culminated with a 22-yard touchdown run from Marcus Caddielll, giving the Rough Riders a 14-10 lead after three quarters.
After being held to just 22 first-half rushing yards, Caddielll finished with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Monaco finished with 47 yards rushing and a touchdown, and was 12-of-20 for 84 yards passing with a touchdown.
Monaco put the game away late with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Luther Fortson with 4:13 left. Caddielll then capped a one-play drive with a 46-yard touchdown run with 2:43 left.
Strong safety Tanner Bontranger put the icing on the cake for the Rough Riders on the game's final play. Bontranger ripped the ball out of the arms of a Falls running back and galloped 46 yards for a touchdown as time expired.
Falls' running game was stuck in neutral all night, as the Black Tigers rushed 35 times for only 40 yards.