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PREP FOOTBALL: Roughriders come up 2 yards short vs. Ashland


Grizzlies make a goal-line stand late in fourth quarter to escape with 13-7 win

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Roosevelt's James Schell-Buchanan takes off on a run against Ashland during Friday's playoff game on the Riders' turf.Roosevelt gave undefeated Ashland all it could handle Friday night, but a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter shut the door on its upset hopes.

The Grizzlies won 13-7 at Roosevelt in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Needing a touchdown for the win, Roosevelt took over on the Grizzlies’ 35-yard line with less than 10 minutes to play. Ashland was on the verge of sending the Roughriders back to the sideline in a hurry when Joe Hearn broke through the middle and knocked down a pass on third-and-9.

It was make or break time for Roosevelt.

Either attempt a 39-yard field goal on a windy night or go for it on fourth-and-long.

The Roughriders kept the offense on the field.

Backup QB Daniel Stauffer, taking over after Kimane Domena was injured during the game, took the snap in shotgun formation, quickly tucked the ball under his arm and dashed through the middle before sliding down at the marker.

The chains were called out, showing he picked up the first down by the length of the football.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Roosevelt running back Billy Nelson gets around the corner during Friday's 13-7 quarterfinal loss to Ashland. A few minutes later, facing third-and-9, the Roughriders’ Chance Swar took a misdirection play out of the backfield and raced around the right side to pick up the first down. He was on his way to the end zone when Ashland’s Mason Montgomery came up for the game-saving tackle at the 2.

Roosevelt brought out its jumbo package, which called for defensive linemen Sione Taumoe’Ange and Semise Kofe to line up in the backfield. The Roughriders were going to ram it down Ashland’s throat.

But the Grizzlies had other plans.

“They brought those big guys in, and they definitely outsized us,” Montgomery said. “We just had to get low and hit hard. We put out a good effort.”

An illegal motion penalty backed up Roosevelt 5 yards, and Ashland’s Cody Frost-Eisenberg stuffed a QB keeper for no gain. A quick pass to the sideline was stopped for a short gain when Matt Hedges slammed into the receiver.

On third-and-goal from the 5, Frost-Eisenberg fought off a block and brought down Stauffer for a 2-yard loss. The Grizzly followed with another crushing tackle at the 4 to force a turnover on downs.

“There was a lot of pressure there,” Montgomery said. “We knew we had to stop them, but our defense loves stepping up on the big stage.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Roosevelt's Andrew Antoniadis covers Ashland's Max Montgomery on a punt during the second half.

Ashland took possession, picked up three first downs and ran out the clock. The clincher came when QB Danial White squeezed his way through the middle to convert a third-and-6 with less than two minutes left.

The Grizzlies (11-0) advance to face No. 1 Sherwood (11-0), which blew out Crescent Valley 68-7 in its quarterfinal.

Ashland got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter Friday when White faked a hand-off in the backfield and took off around the right side. He ran into traffic as he neared the goal line, but was able to reach the ball over with his left hand for the touchdown.

The scoring play was set up when White hit Carter Glick on a 45-yard bomb to convert a third-and-10 from deep in Ashland territory.

The Grizzlies made it 13-0 early in the second quarter. White broke through the middle for a 63-yard touchdown run, fighting past two Roosevelt tacklers near the goal line to complete the play.

“I knew their guys were fast, so I came around the corner and just went as fast as I could,” White said. “Getting that early lead was big. We weren’t in a hurry to score — we just had to take care of the ball.”

Roosevelt’s first two drives reached the red zone, but the Roughriders came up empty. The first threat ended a yard short on fourth down when Collin McGuire led a host of Ashland tacklers in the middle. The second drive was cut short by a Roosevelt fumble along the sideline.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Roosevelt lineman Semise Kofe reacts after laying out an Ashland ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage Friday night.

The Roughriders managed to get on the scoreboard before halftime, after Harlem Atwood recovered an onside kick at midfield. Roosevelt moved into scoring position, as Domena found Atwood for a 13-yard gain over the middle.

The Roughriders had fourth-and-goal with the ball sitting a foot from the goal line when Billy Nelson carried an Ashland tackler on his back and into the end zone.

The score pulled Roosevelt within 13-7, and a stellar defensive play would keep it that way heading into the locker room.

Ashland moved into Roosevelt territory in the final minute of the half, but was left facing fourth-and-2 from the 35. White stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush and let loose with a long ball down the middle. Ashland’s Matt Hedges found some empty space at the front of the end zone, but Nelson rushed onto the scene and left his feet to knock down the pass.

Roosevelt had a solid opportunity to take the lead late in the third quarter after Atwood recovered a fumbled punt return, setting the Roughriders up on a short field. Running back Khaylub Thompson moved the chains with a 6-yard scamper on third-and-3. The Riders moved inside the 25, but a bad snap killed the drive.

Domena spent the second half fitted with a sling and sitting on the bench near the water buckets. The Roughriders attempted only two passes the rest of the game — a long overthrow in the end zone and a 2-yard pass to the flat.

View a photo gallery from the game at …