September 1, 2014

Elyria
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H.S. Football: Lorain can’t match Tigers’ speed, big plays

LORAIN – The Lorain Titans, winners of their first two games of the season, lost their second straight game to the speedy Cleveland Heights Tigers, 39-21.

Lorain matched the Tigers yard for yard and racked up more first downs than its opponent but couldn’t stop the visitors’ big plays in falling to a 32-7 deficit midway through the third quarter.

“What’s exciting about this team is you can’t just take one guy out of the game,” said an ecstatic Jeff Rotsky, who saw his Tigers improve to 4-0.

“We’ve got five or six offensive weapons and one of the best offensive lines in America.”

Heights started on its 9 after Lorain’s promising first drive sputtered out. On the first play quarterback Bryce Jones found Sheldon Jones over the middle and outraced the Titans on a 91-yard reception for a 7-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, the Titans took over on their 8-yard line. Hampered by a holding penalty they were fourth-and-1 on their 13. Refusing to go by the book, head coach Mark Solis went for the first down but Pablo Gonzalez was stopped for no gain. Two plays later the Tigers were up 13-0 when Braxton Gamble scored from the 6 for the first of his two touchdowns.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I go for it on fourth-and -1 anywhere on the field. My mentality is that if we can’t get 36 inches then we probably don’t deserve to win. To be honest, I think we should have gotten it.”

The Titans quickly shook off any letdown they might have felt, going 74 yards in 13 plays to their first score. Gonzalez finished the drive with a counter over right tackle for the score. Rob Dull’s kick closed the margin to 13-7.

But in the long run, despite a pair of interceptions and seven penalties on the game, the visitors had more consistency. Jones’ passing helped set up Marcus Bagley’s 29-yard touchdown for a 19-7 lead just minutes before the half.

Despite the convincing Lake Erie League win, Rotsky wasn’t entirely happy.

“I think we left two or three touchdowns on (off) the board,” the Heights coach said. “When we got intercepted, the receiver was 5 or 6 yards beyond the defender. Our quarterback didn’t have his best ball-game.

“But that’s a good football team (Lorain) over there. They nearly had Avon beat last week and Avon is supposed to go deep this year.”

Lorain moved the ball well in totaling 384 yards in offense with 171 yards passing. Their problem came in finishing their drives, according to Solis.

“To be frank, we should have scored more because we had guys open,” the Titans coach said. “One of the things that hurt us was not getting points in the red zone. That was frustrating.”

Solis is trying to rebuild the Lorain program but has seen his team drop two after starting the season quickly. “The season is going to come down to ‘how do our kids respond here?’ You will see some personnel changes this week. We already removed one of our players from the team tonight (during the game) because he refused to listen. We’re going to move forward.”

The Lorain Titans were just 1 yard off Cleveland Heights total offense of 385 yards while racking up 20 first downs to the Tigers’ 13. In addition, the Titans picked off a pair of interceptions and had fewer penalty yards.

Contact Jim Jablonski at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.