ROCKY RIVER — Perhaps Elyria Catholic’s rousing comeback against Bay last weekend was a fluke.
Or maybe the Panthers’ sluggish offense in a 19-0 loss to Rocky River was the fluke.
“Whatever magic we had against Bay, we didn’t have it tonight,” EC coach Mike Polevacik said.
The Panthers could’ve used some of the sleight of hand they’d had against Bay. In spite of losing quarterback Jeremy Holley to a broken leg early in the game, EC came back from a 20-6 deficit and beat the Rockets 23-20.
Nothing like that happened against the Pirates. Elyria Catholic (3-2, 1-1 West Shore Conference) could compile only 77 yards rushing and 146 yards of total offense. Conner Riddell, an ex-wide receiver pressed into duty because of Holley’s injury, was 8-of-28 passing.
“We just didn’t do a good enough job preparing the kids,” Polevacik said. “I’ll put that on me. We didn’t have something in place to run without Holley and with (Justin) Taylor playing with a cast over his (right) arm.”
Taylor, a hero the in the previous week’s comeback, gained 35 yards on 10 carries in the first half. He was little used in the second half as the Panthers threw or used Riddell as a runner on 21 of 22 plays to finish the game.
“The lack of a running game hurt us badly,” Polevacik said. “We never got it going on the ground. We had no spark.”
The pivotal play, however, was on special teams. A bad snap on a punt try was bobbled by Elyria Catholic punter Ian Kovacs. Kovacs tried to kick the ball, despite being surrounded by defenders. The punt was blocked by Jesse Singler and recovered by the Pirates’ Alec Hallal on the goal line, giving Rocky River (2-3, 1-1) a 13-0 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.
“It was a one-touchdown game before that,” Polevacik said. “We really did a good job of stopping them after their first drive. We thought we had a chance.”
The Panthers had two excellent chances to score. They had a first-and-goal at the 7-yard line early in the second quarter, but failed on a fourth-down at the 3 when Riddell took a 2-yard loss.
Connor Hrobat returned the opening kick of the second half 58 yards to the 22. The Panthers were stopped when Xhuljo Harunaj intercepted Riddell at the 4-yard line.
• WE’LL PASS: Elyria Catholic had no sacks, because Rocky River ran just one pass play the entire game. That play was the Pirates’ second one from scrimmage. It netted 6 yards and gave River a third-and-6.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.