RAVENNA: The Ravenna Ravens are 0-5 after losing only four games all of last season and after a 28-14 loss to Portage Trail Conference rival Kent Roosevelt on Friday night.
Rough Riders senior quarterback Dustin Monaco led his team on two key fourth-quarter drives: a 91-yard drive to take the lead with 8:47 remaining and a 51-yard drive to put it out of reach with 2:13 remaining.
“It was all about just getting back our momentum,” Monaco said. “I have to thank my offensive line; they all pushed me to keep my head up even though things were going bad for a second. We prevailed and came together as a team.”
Monaco can also thank his defense, as the Rough Riders’ front seven made a huge stop on fourth-and-2 with a little more than six minutes remaining at midfield, stopping the Ravens’ last attempt to tie.
Seniors Matt Sommers and Corey Spicer were two of a horde of Roosevelt defenders who helped make the key stop, and the two were making plays on defense all game.
“Our defense has been playing very well,” Roosevelt coach John Nemec said. “They got to us a bit in the third quarter, but our kids got it organized in the fourth quarter to make some big stops.”
After the fourth-down stop, the Rough Riders (4-1, 2-0) needed to come up big on another fourth down, this time on offense, and senior running back Marcus Caddiell came up with a 7-yard run on fourth-and-2 to keep the drive alive.
Five plays later, Monaco ran in the 6-yard touchdown that put the game away.
Early in the game, the football was like a bad gift at a Christmas gift exchange, as it seemed like neither team wanted it in their hands.
The two teams combined for five turnovers in the first half, exchanging interceptions on consecutive drives and later fumbles on consecutive drives. The Rough Riders finished with four turnovers and the Ravens (0-5, 0-2) with three.
Roosevelt fumbled on their second drive in Ravens territory, setting up the game’s first score on a 31-yard field goal.
The Rough Riders answered on the next play from scrimmage on a 62-yard touchdown run by Caddiell. They added on during their next drive with a trick play where Monaco threw a backward pass to receiver Kardell Jackson, who then threw a forward pass to a wide-open Corey Spicer in the end zone for a 9-yard score.
The Ravens offense came out energized in the second half after looking stagnant for most of the first, putting together a nine-play, 3:45-minute drive that ended in a 15-yard touchdown run by junior Warren Bradley, bringing the score to 14-11 after they converted the 2-point play.
Demetrius Fear then intercepted a Monaco pass on the following drive, and the Ravens drove to the Rough Riders 5-yard line, poised to take the lead, but a chop-block penalty set them back 15 yards.
They settled for a field goal, tying the score at 14-14, but then Monaco and the Roosevelt offense took over on the 91-yard drive that ended in Monaco finding Luther Fortson for the 12-yard go-ahead touchdown.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this rivalry,” Nemec said. “The Ravenna guys played hard and it was a good football game as usual.”