The Rocky River Ravens celebrated Spirit Week and Homecoming with a solid 42-0 win over South Meck Sabre squad last Friday night. This was the third conference game for both teams.
The game was controlled by both defenses in the first quarter. The Sabres had a bad handoff exchange and Safety Lamar Hood tackled the runner in the end zone which resulted in a safety for the Ravens. The Ravens had given up safeties in the previous two games, so being on the receiving end was a welcome change. Neither team could get any traction on offense, and the quarter ended with Rocky River leading, but by the slimmest of margins, 2-0.
“South really came out ready to play tonight. They punched us in the mouth and were the more physical team in the first quarter,” said Head Coach Jason Fowler.
The teams continued to trade punts when the Ravens got a break. A punt was mishandled by South Meck and recovered by Rocky River at the Sabres’ three yard line.
Before the next play could be run, lightening was seen in the area and the officials sent the teams to the locker rooms for a mandatory postponement of 30 minutes. Coach Fowler thinks the stoppage of play may have helped his team.
“We were able to make some adjustments when that happened, and it had a positive effect,” says Fowler.
Once play resumed quarterback Andre Rice ran in from the three yard line and just like that, with three and a half minutes left in the half, the Ravens led 9-0. The point after touchdown was converted by kicker Aaron Roman who was injured two games ago against Providence.
“It’s good to have Aaron back,” coach Jason Fowler said. It helps tremendously to have a consistent kicker.”
The second quarter ended with Rocky River leading 9-0. The defense was solid in the half, al- lowing only four first downs. They gave up one long run of 66 yards, but otherwise kept the Sabres in check.
Newly crowned Homecoming Queen Vanessa Perez saw the Ravens explode in the second half. The Ravens’ first drive of the half ended in a touchdown. Offensive Coordinator Mark Harmon called a wide receiver pass and it worked to perfection. Rice pitched to wide receiver Aaron Cole who started to run a sweep to the right side, stopped and threw to a wide open Brandon Harris behind the defense for a 26-yard score. This is the second consecutive week that exact play resulted in a touchdown, having worked against Butler last week. The score was now 15-0. Rocky River forced another South Meck punt and thus began the Naquan Evans show. He took the punt on a hop at the 28-yard line and slalomed his way through the Sabres’ punt team for a 72-yard score. With the extra point the score was suddenly 22-0. After another South Meck punt the Ravens began to impose their will offensively. The drive methodically moved the ball down the field, mixing the run and the pass. This was easily their best drive of the night, taking six minutes off the clock and spanning the third and fourth quarters. The drive started at their own 24-yard line and ended in another Rice run for a touchdown.
“We were trying to run a little more in the second half,” coach Fowler explained. We were using our short passing game in the first half basically as our running game. In the second half, their defense loosened up some and we were able to run more.” The score was now 29-0 and the game appeared out of reach for South Meck, but Rocky River was not done yet.
South Meck was forced to punt yet again. They made the mistake of kicking it to senior Naquan Evans, again, who promptly took it to the house. This time the touchdown was only 65 yards. Special teams were important according to Coach Fowler, “The Special Teams were big tonight. We definitely won the Special Teams battle tonight and that really helped out.”
With the score now 35- 0, many of the Ravens’ reserves got a chance to show what they could do. Sophomore quarterback Christian Allen-Brown took control of the offense on the Ravens’ last scoring drive. Freshman running back Rashaad Brannon showed he could have an impact on the team in coming years as he capped off the scoring with a 12- yard run. The point after touchdown ended the scoring for the night at 42-0.
The Ravens’ offense looked spotty for most of the first half.
“We didn’t match their intensity in the first half,” Offensive Coordinator Harmon said. “I’m proud of our guys; they played their game in the second half.”
Senior Naquan Evans put on a show. Two punt returns for touchdowns, and he also added an interception, all in the second half. “I’ve been preparing for a game like this, he said. I scored a couple of touchdowns last year, but this was the best game of my career so far. The defense was keeping us in the game early while the offense struggled. We just needed a spark and I’m glad I was able to help the team win.”
The Ravens’ defense had their third shutout of the season. Average opponents scoring in the Ravens’ five wins: just over seven points per game.
Penalties, a problem for Rocky River all season, were not a factor in this game.
The Ravens had no turnovers while forcing two from S. Mecklenburg.
Continuing a theme for this season, this was Rocky River’s first victory over S. Mecklenburg in football, having lost the previous two years.
Rocky River (5-2, 2-1) at East Meck (0-7, 0-3) Friday, 7 pm
Rocky River played E. Mecklenburg last year, winning 35-0.
Many may know Head Coach Fowler came to Rocky River from E. Mecklenburg, where he was the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator.
“I spent six years at E. Mecklenburg before coming to Rocky River. They gave me my first big break in coaching. I still have a lot of good friends over there, and I know some of their players. It’s gonna be good to go there and see some familiar faces, but we’re going there to win a ball game.”
About the Eagles team, “They’re a physical team and we’ll get their best game,” Coach Fowler said. “We need to continue to win to get where we want to go.”