ROSSFORD — For Rossford to defeat unbeaten Eastwood, the Bulldogs were going to have to hold serve.
The Bulldogs failed to do that in the second quarter, and the Eagles rolled, 58-41, in an offensive shootout at Jackson Ferguson Stadium Friday.
Eastwood stays undefeated at 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Northern Buckeye Conference while Rossford falls to 3-5 and 2-3, but four of those losses have been by seven points or less.
Rossford was holding serve heading into the second quarter.
Rossford senior quarterback Alex Williams threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Wesley Ellison, tying the game at 14-14 with 9:12 remaining in the first half.
Eastwood scored 30 points unanswered to close out the half, taking a 44-14 halftime lead and forcing a running clock to start the second half.
For Eastwood coach Craig Rutherford, taking that big lead was what the doctor ordered.
“We knew as the game got started that if we were going to hang in there that we were going to have to get a turnover or two,” Rutherford said. “(Senior defensive back) Zack Sheldrick came up with a couple amazing plays, a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception.
“Then (senior DB) Case (Boos) had an unbelievable interception as they were driving. Turnovers were a big part of getting us in it,” Rutherford said.
So, with a 30-point halftime lead, the game is pretty much in the bag for the Eagles, right?
The Bulldogs, despite losing time to the running clock, mounted a second half comeback, in part thanks to two successfully converted onside kicks by senior kicker Jonah Shafer.
“Jonah had some great onside kicks,” Rossford coach Todd Drusback said. “I may do that every time we score from now on, so we’ll see.”
After Rossford senior Brandon Swope recovered the first onside kick, Williams needed one play, a 39-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jake Morrison.
After junior Kaden Kirkman recovered the second onside kick, Williams threw a 22-yard completion to Kirkman and then he hit Kirkman for a 21-yard TD pass.
At that point, Eastwood led by just 10, 51-41, and 8:46 remained in the game, bringing a beleaguered Rossford fan base back alive, plus the Bulldogs had put a quick end to the running clock.
Rossford looked as if they could become one of the first teams in Ohio, if not the first, to come back from a running clock and win a football game. That may take some research.
“We do some good things in stretches and some bad things in stretches,” Drusback said. “I will say that the unbelievable quality of our guys is their resiliency. It doesn’t matter the situation. They do not stop believing.
“It was a 30-point game, so that makes it even more remarkable. We got to within 10 with eight minutes left and we had some time,” Drusback continued.
“So, it’s just a play here and a play there. I felt we had some offensive opportunities in the first half that we just didn’t capitalize on. I’m real proud of our guys, how we battled, and had a chance.”
Eastwood sophomore Colton Woodward fell on the next onside kick, and the Eagles had an 11-play, 57-yard drive that resulted in a two-yard TD run by senior back Bryce DeFalco.
For the second straight Friday, Eastwood played in a game that saw over 1,000 yards of total offense — this time 541 by Rossford and 471 by Eastwood.
Williams completed 33-of-57 passes for 502 yards, threw for five touchdowns, and ran for one.
Williams completed 13 passes to Morrison for 255 yards, 15 to Kirkman for 207 yards, and five to senior Wesley Ellison for 40 yards. Plus, he was without one of his other top receivers, senior Brenden Revels, who missed the game because of an injury.
Eastwood’s QB, Boos, ran for 213 yards on 14 carries — that is over 15 yards per carry, and scored four touchdowns, plus he threw two touchdown passes, completing 6-of-6 passes for 130 yards.
“That Boos kid is pretty good. Even when we had him corralled, he just wiggled us,” Drusback said. “He’s as good as a player as I’ve ever since at the high school level. He’s just incredible.”
On defense, Boos admitted he had his hands full trying to cover Williams and Rossford’s receivers. He compared the game to playing in a 7-on-7 tournament that are held in early summer.
“We knew coming in that they were going to run a full spread with an empty backfield,” Boos said.
“But we knew that the DBs had to have a big game, and we did. We had two picks. We gave up some yards, but there was a lot of scrambling, a lot of stuff that we couldn’t really cover. But our DBs did a good job.”
You would think the defensive backfield would enjoy playing in a game like this, but Boos says there are challenges, especially when a guy like Williams is doing his thing.
“It is tough. It is nerve wrecking because you know the ball is always going to go into the air,” Boos said. “He’s got some good talent over there.
“It’s kind of nice because you know the ball is going to be in the air, so you get a chance to make a play over and over, but again they have the chance to make a play as well.”
Rutherford added, “He’s (Williams) a senior guy playing one of his last games at home. It’s exactly what you would expect out of him.
“He did a great job — you must give him a lot of credit for stringing out plays and finding open receivers. He’s a heck of a player.
“In the end we came up with just enough plays. It’s tough going into the game their plan was to throw the ball as much as they could, and they were going to spread everything out.
“Even at times when we got pressure, their quarterback is a big guy, and he’s doesn’t come down easy. You look at our league and we’ve got some special quarterbacks. I’ll stack those guys up with anybody.”
DeFalco, who had 71 yards rushing on 11 carries, said both teams had something relevant to play for — Eastwood needs to keep the foot on the gas to win the league, Rossford still has playoff hopes.
“It was very exhilarating. The atmosphere here is very high and we all know what the stakes are,” DeFalco said.
“They (Rossford) needed to win this game to make it into the playoffs, and there was a lot at stake for both teams and we want to keep winning and win the league, but we’ve got to finish plays.
“That is something we definitely need to work on is finishing plays as a team as a whole, but I’m very proud of the way we hung in there at the end and finished it out.”