Updated: Aug 21
Mantua, OH- The Crestwood Red Devils opened their 2023 season at Jack Lambert Stadium as they welcomed in the Rootstown Rovers. Crestwood was looking to avenge last seasons 30-0 opening week loss to the Rovers and prove they are ready to compete. As for the Rovers, they were looking to replace 2,300 yard rusher Cody Coontz and prove they are still a force to be reckoned with.
The Rovers got the ground game going right off the bat as they marched 52 yards with 30 of those coming from new lead back Dawson Morgan. It was Morgan who capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. The Blake Mullaly PAT gave the Rovers a 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
Crestwood was able to get some positive momentum going their first drive as Nate Blasiole busted open for a 43 yard gain on the third play moving them into Rovers territory at the 18 yard line. But two holding penalties and a personal foul killed the drive for the Red Devils and they were forced to punt.
Rootstown wasted no time putting together another three minute scoring drive highlighted by a Ryan Piscitani 43-yard strike to Tristen McKibben on the second play. Morgan again capped off the scoring drive with a touchdown, this time from 8 yards out. The PAT gave the Rovers a 14-0 lead with 2:56 to play in the 1st quarter.
Crestwood was not able to score on their second possession as a Charlie Sommer incomplete pass on third down put the Red Devils in another punt situation.
It was the same story on possession number three for Rootstown as Morgan carried the load with 6 rushes out of the 7 play possession including a 61-yard burst down to the Red Devils 10-yard line. He would score three plays later from 2 yards out for his 3rd touchdown of the half. The PAT gave the Rovers a 21-0 lead with 9:21 to play in the half.
The first half for Crestwood was plagued by penalties. A holding penalty on the first play of their third possession resulted in a 3 and out and their third punt of the half.
The Rovers and Morgan would again capitalize with a 5 minute, 67-yard drive. The end result was an 11-yard touchdown run by who else, Dawson Morgan, his 4th of the half! Another successful Mullaly PAT made it 28-0. That would be the score as we headed to halftime.
Dawson Morgan ended the half with 20 carries for 173 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Crestwood would open the second half looking like a different team that trailed 28-0 at the break. On the third play QB Charlie Sommer hit AJ Januska for a 35-yard gain into Rover territory. From there it was all Nate Blasiole as he ran the ball four straight times and ended it with a 1-yard touchdown. He then converted a successfull two-point conversion run making it a 28-8 deficit with 9:02 to play 3rd quarter.
The Red Devils defense would come alive holding the Rovers on a 3-and-out and forcing them to punt for the first time on the night.
The Crestwood offense took full advantage of that first punt as they put together a 75-yard drive capped off by a nice 40-yard scoring strike from Wyatt Januksa to AJ Januska. This time the two-point conversion was unsuccessful making it a 28-14 game. Crestwood had shifted the momentum and got themselves right back in the game.
Rootstown would have an answer this time. It was another drive dominated by RB Dawson Morgan. He contributed 57 yards including a 20-yard reception from Piscitani. The end result was his 5th touchdown of the game from 11 yards out. The PAT put the Rovers up by three scores at 35-14.
After scoring their first two drives of the 2nd half, Crestwood was held to a 3-and-out punt giving it right back to the Rovers. Their defense would then come up big forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Red Devils Wyatt Januska.
They would turn that gift into a touchdown making it a two score game once again as Blasiole scored from a yard out. They converted the two-point try making the deficit 35-22.
Unfortunately for Crestwood they were unable to stop the Dawson Morgan train. On the second play of the Rovers possession, Morgan broke loose for a 45-yard game clinching touchdown run. Morgan accounted for all six Rovers touchdowns on the night.
Crestwood would get a late touchdown run by Blasiole and their third two-point conversion making the final margin 42-30 in favor of the Rovers.
It was a heck of a debut for new lead back Dawson Morgan as he accumulated 295 yards on the ground and those 6 touchdowns. Nate Blasiole had a nice game himself with 133 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Rootstown is home next week as the welcome in the Champion Flashes while Crestwood travels to Minerva.
Unofficial stat leaders:
Ryan Piscitani: 6/9, 102 yards
Dawson Morgan: 35 rush, 327 yds, 6 TD
Tristen McKibben: 2 rec, 52 yds
Wyatt Januska: 1/1, 40 yds, TD
Nate Blasiole: 22 rush, 133 yds, 3 TD
AJ Januska: 4 rec, 155 yds
I spoke with both coaches after the game.