KENT: Kent Roosevelt was able to hold off a late-charging Cuyahoga Falls on Friday night, beating the Black Tigers in a mud-filled thriller 20-15 at Theodore Roosevelt Stadium.
Despite Roosevelt’s lightning-strike offense and a 20-3 halftime deficit, Cuyahoga Falls crawled back and had a chance to steal a road win in the closing seconds.
Down five with 66 seconds to play, no timeouts and on their 38-yard line, senior quarterback Joe Repasky hit senior wide receiver Luke Ritzinger for 31 yards down the right sideline. Repasky (283 yards, 18-36 passing) then found senior Matt Lawrence down the other sideline, who adjusted to the throw and hauled in a pass at Roosevelt’s 12-yard line with 43 seconds to go, setting up four attempts for the victory.
All four passes into the end zone went incomplete, and the final attempt was tipped just beyond the line of scrimmage as the Rough Riders survived. Still, an emotional loss proved to show positives for coach Mike Miller.
“The most important thing is that the kids fought back,” Miller said. “ ‘Finish’ is our mantra this year. We told our kids at halftime that we’ve played 24 minutes and we have 24 left. Unfortunately, we came up a little short.”
And for a high-powered, offensive-minded team like Roosevelt, a final stand on the defensive side of the ball is an encouraging sign to coach John Nemec.
“We needed this win, and I thought our defense won it for us,” he said. “That’s something to build on.
“I thought we were in control and then the turnovers brought them back. We made some mistakes to put our defense in trouble, and they rose to the occasion and won the game for us.”
The Black Tigers’ defense found its footing in the second half after an aerial attack in the first. Senior Devin Speicher picked off quarterback Tra’Von Chapman in the end zone in the third quarter that led to the first touchdown in the rally, a 10-yard run from senior Chris Harris. Later, with the game seemingly over, senior Andrew Paster stripped Brandon Gros and returned it all the way to the Roosevelt 30-yard line.
Cuyahoga Falls couldn’t do anything with the latter opportunity, but scratching its way back to within 12 yards of a victory showed a senior leadership that can lead to bigger and better things, Miller said.
“We’ve been down for the last few years,” he said. “It’s no secret, the kids know that. We have a great senior class and they’re excellent leaders. They believe in the coaches, believe in each other, and that’s what we’re looking for. We can be successful when they do that.”
Chapman threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 17-28 passing, and he had another 106 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Nearly all of his passing numbers came in the second half, and most of those were to senior Trei Thomas.
Thomas couldn’t be slowed down in the first half to the tune of seven catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, including a SportsCenter-esque one-handed grab with two defenders around him. Cuyahoga Falls put Harris on Thomas in the second half, which slowed him down, and Thomas later left the game. Nemec says he was shaken up but is fine.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.