KENT: The Kent Roosevelt football team sat in the locker room at halftime of their Division II Region 5 quarterfinal game Friday night with Ellet in silence.
The Rough Riders and Orangemen were tied 7-7, and nobody wearing red and black was happy.
“It was good self-reflection time,” Roosevelt senior quarterback Tra’Von Chapman said of the quiet time at Kent State University’s Dix Stadium.
Ellet controlled the tempo of the first half by running the ball on a majority of its plays on offense, and causing the Roosevelt offense to sputter with a stout defense.
“We played probably the worst half of football since I have been at Kent, but we were tied 7-7,” Chapman said.
Roosevelt regrouped, and with two long passing touchdowns by Chapman to senior receiver Trei Thomas, the Rough Riders defeated the Orangemen 24-7.
“At halftime, we sat there and had no talking,” Chapman said. “We all just thought about how we each needed to play our game. We all just had to sit down and really question ourselves.”
Roosevelt (10-1) advances to play Aurora next week in a regional semifinal. Ellet ends its season with an 8-3 record.
“Certainly in the second half, I thought their defensive front and their offensive front took over a little bit,” Ellet coach Joe Yost said.
“In the first half, we had momentum. It is just tough to hang onto. Overall, in the first half we contained their offense really well, but in the second half they went a little more up-tempo.
‘‘They had a few things go their way and it sort of snowballed there for about seven or eight minutes.”
Chapman completed 9-of-23 passes for 185 yards for a Rough Riders team that didn’t generate much on the ground.
“Ellet played just a great first half,” Roosevelt coach John Nemec said.
“They kept the ball away from us. We had a turnover early. We didn’t have the ball much. We had [one play] in the first quarter. They got us out of our rhythm. I think that is a good football team and they played very hard. Our kids got together at halftime and we came out and played a little better football [in the second half].”
On its opening drive, Ellet covered 65 yards in eight plays. Junior Matt Geer finished it off with a 12-yard touchdown run with 7:56 to go in the first quarter. Sophomore Jacob Ivery (20 rushes for 77 yards) and Geer (13 rushes for 51 yards) gained most of the yardage on the possession.
Orangemen sophomore Cle’Von Burch intercepted Roosevelt’s first offensive play 17 seconds after the first touchdown, but the Rough Riders responded seven plays later to tie the score at 7-7 when junior defensive end Corey Spicer intercepted a pass and ran 89 yards for a touchdown with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter.
“Our defense, obviously kept us in the game in the first half,” Nemec said.
“Corey Spicer’s play was huge. The kid has great hands. He made the catch and then the blocking on that interception was tremendous.”
Ellet gained 143 yards in the first half and limited Roosevelt to 21 yards. The Orangemen had 10 first downs in the first half and the Rough Riders had just two.
Roosevelt marched 72 yards on its opening drive on the third quarter and took a 10-7 lead on a 27-yard field goal by senior Jose Rocha with 8:08 to go.
The Rough Riders’ defense then kept the Orangemen from doing much.
Chapman connected with Thomas on touchdown passes of 53 and 54 yards on consecutive possessions to give Roosevelt a 24-7 edge with 3:34 to go in the third quarter.
“Tra and Trei are excellent football players,” Nemec said. “They are really good kids and good football players. And our line gave them a little more time to work with there in the second half. I thought that was the difference.
“Our defense played well the whole night and our offense played well in the third and fourth quarter. I am real proud of our kids.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.