ROOTSTOWN, OH- Robert C. Dunn field in Rootstown was the site for the OHSAA Division 6 - Region 21 playoff matchup between the #9 seed United Golden Eagles (8-2) and the #8 seed Rootstown Rovers (7-3). If you are a fan of offense and scoring then this was the game for you as the teams combined for well over 1,000 yards of offense and 111 points.
United would start the night receiving the ball and starting at the Rover 25 yard line after a short kick return. It took all of one play for the wild scoring to get started as Golden Eagles Junior QB Luke Courtney took a QB keeper 75 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was good giving United a quick 7-0 lead. This would be the first of many times that Courtney's name would be called.
The Rovers first possession started in disaster as star RB Cody Coontz fumbled on their first play after a 3 yard gain. It was recovered by United LB Andrew Ogilvie at the Rovers 20 yard line. But the Rover defense would step up big as Nick Malek picked off a Courtney pass at the 23 yard line. Unfortunately they could not capitalize on offense and were forced to punt after a 3 and out.
United went to work from their own 42 yard line after a fair catch. The 5 play, 58 yard scoring drive ended with another Courtney touchdown run this one from 3 yards out. The extra point was blocked making it 13-0 United with 8:10 to play in the first quarter.
Rootstown again suffered a crucial turnover on their next possession as QB Luke DeAngelis was picked off by United DB Brock Rhodes at the Rover 30 yard line. Two plays later Courtney found Grant Knight for a 31 yard touchdown pass. PAT was good making it 20-0 in favor of the Golden Eagles with 6:06 to play 1st quarter.
The Rovers were able to get things rolling on their next possession on a long 12 play, 70 yard drive that concluded with Cody Coontz running it in from 4 yards out. The PAT made it 20-7 with 1:38 to play in the 1st quarter.
United countered right back after an Andrew Ogilvie 54 yard run set them up at the Rover 17 yard line. From there it took them 7 plays, but they scored the only touchdown of the night that did not involve Luke Courtney, a 2 yard run by Brock Rhodes. The PAT made it a 27-7 United lead.
Rootstown went back to their ground game as Dawson Morgan aided the drive with 2 carries for 30 yards helping move the ball inside the Golden Eagles 5 yard line. From there Ryan Piscitani ran it in from 3 yards out on a keeper. The PAT made it a 27-14 game with 6:48 to play in the 1st half.
As they had all game to that point United had an answer as they went 72 yards in three minutes that included Courtney completed passes of 30 and 28 yards to Brock Rhodes and Grant Knight respectively. Courtney finished the drive with a 2 yard touchdown run. The PAT put United back up by 20 at 34-14 with 3:41 to play in the half.
Rootstown was able to come up with a huge play in their passing game as DeAngelis hit Branden Bobbs with a beautifully thrown ball down the sidelines that went for a 64 yard touchdown. The PAT made it 34-21.
United came back with a quick strike of their own as Courtney hit Hayden Castro for a 73 yard touchdown after he was left wide open in the middle of the field on a defensive breakdown by the Rovers. The PAT gave us our halftime score of 41-21 in favor of United.
It was a fast and furious end to the half that featured 28 points scored in the final 6+ minutes.
The Rovers started the second half with a quick 4 play, 52 yard drive capped off with a Coontz 3 yard touchdown run. The PAT brought the Rovers within 13 at 41-28 with 10:51 to play 3rd quarter.
The first play of United's next series was a 64 yard touchdown run by who else, Luke Courtney. Unfortunately for the Eagles it was called back on a holding penalty. The setback did not phase them though as they proceeded to go 74 yards in 6 plays. Courtney completed four passes on the drive, the last of which was a 43 yard scoring strike to Brock Rhodes. The PAT put the lead back to 20 at 48-28. Courtney was 4/4 for 73 yards on the drive.
Rootstown was able to put together another solid possession as they went 80 yards in 11 plays with a mix of run and pass. Coontz finished it off plunging in from a yard out to pull the Rovers within 13 at 48-35 with 3:30 to play 3rd quarter.
Rootstown needed a big stop from their defense and that's exactly what they got. After a holding penalty set United back 10 yards, the Rovers defense held them on three straight runs forcing the first United punt of the night with just under two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Rovers would carry that momentum from the big stop and drive 77 yards highlighted by a Coontz 40 yard run and ending with his 4th touchdown of the night from 2 yards out. We had ourselves a ball game as the PAT brought Rootstown as close as they had been all night at 48-42.
United quickly stuffed the Rover momentum as on the very first play of their next possession Courtney busted loose for a 64 yard touchdown run. The PAT made it a 55-42 game. A backbreaking score allowed by the Rovers after they fought so hard to get back in the game.
There was still plenty of game left and Rootstown was not going down without a fight. They took only 4 plays to find the end zone capped off by a DeAngelis 24 yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooper. The PAT once again made it a 6 point game at 55-49 with 8:11 to play.
United put together their longest drive when they needed to the most eating away almost six minutes of clock in 15 plays. They were able to once again find the end zone for their last score of the night as Courtney took it in from 2 yards out for his 8th touchdown of the game. The PAT made it 62-49 with 2:22 to play in the game.
Rootstown tried to put together a quick scoring drive but DeAngelis was sacked on 4th down ending the Rovers hopes and sending the Golden Eagles sideline and crowd into a frenzy.
It was an impressive offensive performance by the Golden Eagles and a valiant effort by the home Rovers who never went away and made it a game in the 4th quarter. United will move on to face #1 seed Kirtland who disposed of Independence 48-6.
Luke Courtney: 12/19, 297 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT - 20 rushes, 240 yards, 5 TD
Grant Knight: 8 rec, 136 yards, TD
Hayden Casto: 2 rec, 78 yards, TD
Luke DeAngelis: 18/25, 220 yards, 2 TD, INT
Cody Coontz: 34 rushes, 200 yards, 4 TD
Branden Bobbs: 4 rec, 88 yards, TD
I was able to talk with a disappointed but very proud Rootstown coach Chris Knopick after the game.
This playoff recap is brought to you by Daystar Ford!