Palmyra, OH- The Southeast Pirates (6-2) were looking to bounce back from a tough loss to Mogadore. In their way, the unbeaten Rootstown Rovers (7-0) who came into this one ranked #2 in Division VI / Region 21.
The Rovers would receive the opening kick that went out of bounds putting them at the 35 yard line. The first five plays from scrimmage were Dawson Morgan runs totaling 38 yards. Four plays later QB Ryan Piscitani would score from 16 yards out on a keeper. Blake Mullaly split the uprights on the PAT giving Rootstown the early 7-0 lead.
After a muffed kickoff the Pirates were pinned deep in their own territory starting at the 14 yard line. They were able to move the ball out to midfield before a high snap almost resulted in a turnover, losing 8 yards on the play. Unfortunately for the Pirates a turnover did happen on the next play as Antonio Mejia was picked off by Rovers DB Chris Cooper at the 47 yard line. Rootstown would take advantage as Morgan carried the ball five times, the last of which was a 3 yard touchdown plunge. Another successful PAT made it 14-0 Rovers with 2:30 to play in the 1st.
The Rootstown defense would shut down the Pirates on a 3 and out forcing the first punt of the game. The Rovers had a short field starting at the Pirates 38 yard line. Six plays later it was Morgan scoring once again, this time from 4 yards out. Mullaly's PAT made it 21-0 with 10:17 to play in the half.
The Pirates needed a break to happen for them. That break would come after another punt that hit at the Rovers 25 yard line and bounced of the leg of a Rootstown player causing a fumble that was recovered by Southeast at the Rovers 20 yard line. After a Case Myers 3 yard run, Antonio Mejia had runs of 6, 2 and 9 yards, the last of which went for the first Pirates score of the night. Gavin Bertka knocked in the PAT cutting the Rover lead to 21-7 with 4:42 to play in the first half.
Rootstown would answer right back on their final possession of the half. Morgan ran it five straight plays for a total of 51 yards. That setup a 26 yard touchdown pass from Piscitani to Nick Malek with 1:21 to play in the half. The PAT put the Rovers up 28-7. Southeast had one more shot to score again before halftime, but Mejia was once again picked off by Cooper. The Rovers would take the 28-7 lead into halftime.
Southeast looked to grab some momentum on the first possession of the second half. They faced a 3rd and 2 when Mejia was sacked by Rovers DL Michael Lattimer for a 7 yard loss forcing a punt. But the Rovers would give it right back. After a 12 yard gain, Morgan fumbled the ball and Southeast recovered at their own 40 yard line. They were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt for the 4th time on the night.
The Rovers would add one more score at the start of the 4th quarter as Piscitani and Malek hooked up for the 2nd time, this one a 20 yard touchdown pass on a nicely thrown ball. Mullaly would stay perfect on PAT's making it a 35-7 lead for Rootstown.
Mejia would be picked off one final time on their next drive, this time by Nick Malek who added to his big night. The balance of the 4th quarter was scoreless as the Rovers remained unbeaten taking this one 35-7. It was another big night for Dawson Morgan who now has 1,762 yards rushing on the season.
The win sets up Rootstown (8-0) with a showdown next Friday at Robert C. Dunn Field with Mogadore (6-2) for a PTC Title. Southeast (6-3) will wrap up their regular season at home vs Warren JFK.
Dawson Morgan: 28 rush, 230 yds, 2 TD
Ryan Piscitani: 5/8, 71 yds, 2 TD
Nick Malek: 3 rec, 57 yds, 2 TD - INT
Chris Cooper: 2 INT
Antonio Mejia: 8/19, 57 yds, 3 INT - 77 rush yds
Case Myers: 48 total yds, TD
Austin Mejia: 5 rush, 33 yds