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