Ellet clinched at least a share of the City Series championship with a 30-14 win Friday night at home against Garfield.
Sometimes, a defense can play well but just give up the big plays at the wrong time. That was the story Friday.
The Orangemen (9-0, 5-0 City Series) gained just 212 yards of total offense, but they converted 8-of-13 third-down situations to keep the Rams’ defense on the field and their scoring drives alive.
“[Offensive coordinator Chuck] Shuman called real good plays,” Ellet coach Joe Yost said. “I thought the kids executed. It seemed we were able to come up with a big play when we needed it.”
The struggles of the Rams’ defense on third down were most evident on a 13-play drive that lasted nearly six minutes late in the third quarter.
The Rams (5-4, 3-2) had just scored their first touchdown of the game on a 19-yard touchdown run by running back Darrion Powers, cutting the deficit to 17-7.
But the Orangemen responded by converting four third-down plays on the drive, including a third-down conversion on the 3-yard touchdown pass from Jake Fisher to Jake Williams.
“In the second half we came out, got a score and some momentum, but they got the ball and just picked away at us,” Garfield coach Bob Sax said. “To me, that was the big turning point there.
‘‘Instead of getting the ball back 17-7 with momentum, they made it 24-7.”
The Orangemen went ahead 7-0 in the first quarter when Matt Geer scored on a 1-yard run after Fisher threw passes of 22 and 23 yards, the latter to Geer, to set up the touchdown.
They added another touchdown late in the second quarter when Jacob Ivery scored on a 7-yard run.
Kicker Andrew Neal made a 27-yard field goal as time expired to end the half to put Ellet ahead 17-0.
The Rams, who already had trouble moving the ball in the first quarter, had matters made worse when Powers, their main playmaker, went down with a hamstring injury on the third play of the second quarter. He missed the remainder of the half.
“That was a big one there,” Sax said. “It hurts any time a guy like him goes down. You need those guys in these big games.”
Powers returned to the field to open the second half, and the impact of his absence was almost immediately made clear.
The Rams opened their second drive of the second half with Powers lining up as quarterback in the Wildcat and throwing a 59-yard pass to the quarterback, Jatairis Grant.
Three plays later, Powers ran in for the Rams’ first score.
“Having him back in there opened up the playbook a little more,” Sax said. “It was a big spark for us.”
The Orangemen added on when Cody Hoskinson intercepted a screen pass and returned it to Garfield’s 13-yard line, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run by Geer.
After playing second or third fiddle to Buchtel in the City Series for a handful of years, Ellet has now clinched at least a share of its second consecutive league title.
“Understand every week when you play in the city of Akron you’re going to play tough, fast athletes,” Yost said. “It means the world to us. That’s our number one goal: to win the City.
‘‘To be able to do it two years in a row is phenomenal for the Ellet community and our players and a testimony to how hard these kids work.”
Ellet can clinch the outright championship with a win next week against 1-7 North or with a Buchtel loss today.