St. Edward knocks out Eu­clid

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Jeff Schudel jschudel@news-her­ald.com @JSProIn­sider on Twit­ter

It was a cold, rainy mis­er­able night to be do­ing any­thing out­side. The crowd sit­ting on the un­com­fort­able metal bleachers be­hind the Eu­clid Pan­thers and cheer­ing them on was sparse.

The Pan­thers didn’t care about any of that. They gave ev­ery­thing they had on Nov. 9, but in the end were elim­i­nated in the Re­gion 1, Divi­sion I semi­fi­nal at By­ers Field in Parma, 56-35.

The Pan­thers head into the win­ter 9-3. When they look back on the game that ended their sea­son, they will think about what might have been if they had not lost four costly fum­bles. A fifth lost fum­ble al­lowed the Ea­gles to run out the clock.

“We played hard, we just did some un­char­ac­ter­is­tic things,” Coach Jeff Rot­sky said. “De­fen­sively, we missed tack­les, but we kept com­ing back.

“We turned the ball over four times. You think about it, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent game if that doesn’t hap­pen. You can’t do that in any game. It’s just hard to ac­cept. It’s frus­trat­ing. If we don’t turn the ball over, this is a last-pos­ses­sion game for sure.”

The high score was sur­pris­ing in such gloomy con­di­tions, but both teams con­quered the weather with big plays. One of the big­gest, a 60yard touch­down pass from St. Edward quar­ter­back Gar­rett Dzuro to Macken­zie Wain­wright af­ter a Eu­clid turnover, gave the Ea­gles a 28-14 lead with 1:07 left in the first half.

It was the first time ei­ther team built a twotouch­down lead. The Pan­thers cut the Ea­gles’ ad­van­tage to 28-21 be­fore half­time on a 1-yard pass from Dion Valen­tine to Bran­don Wright and tied it at 28-28 in the third quar­ter on a 35-yard pass from backup quar­ter­back Vin­cent Jack­son to Atiba Fitz.

The Pan­thers had a chance to re­gain the lead af­ter re­cov­er­ing the fum­bled kick­off at the St. Edward 29 (they led 14-7 af­ter one quar­ter), but they went back­ward on three plays. In­stead of punt­ing to pin the Ea­gles in­side the 10, Rot­sky chose to go for it on fourth down. Valen­tine was sacked on the 35. The Ea­gles took over on downs, found the end zone in five plays and took over the game.

Rot­sky would not sec­ond guess him­self for go­ing for it on fourth down with the score tied.

“We had the wind. The wind was a big fac­tor tonight,” Rot­sky said. “I’m not a guy that’s go­ing to play not to lose. We were go­ing to play to win.”

The Ea­gles churned out 639 yards of of­fense – 375 of them on the ground.

Eu­clid had 464 yards of of­fense led by 117 rush­ing yards by Wright.

Rot­sky de­liv­ered an emo­tional post-game speech. He told his play­ers the loss would st­ing, but he also re­minded them they are part of the re­nais­sance of the city of Eu­clid and of the Eu­clid High School foot­ball pro­gram.

“I’ll go to the wall with my kids any day of the year,” Rot­sky said. “It’s a great group. I love ‘em. We just have to get over the hump.”

TIM PHILLIS — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Eu­clid’s Dre’Von Lind­sey car­ries against St. Edward on Nov. 9 at By­ers Field.

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