FREMONT – At halftime of its rivalry game with Sandusky, the stats told a positive story for the Fremont Ross football team.
The defense played strong and the Little Giants had more rushing, passing and total yardage than the Blue Streaks. The only offensive points scored in the first half came when Ross had the ball.
But none of that included the special teams. Which, for Ross on Saturday afternoon, were anything but special.
The Blue Steaks scored first-half touchdowns on a kick return, a fumbled punt snap and a returned blocked field goal. The second half saw a handful of big plays from the Sandusky offense and that closed the book on the 114th edition of the Ross/Sandusky rivalry with the Blue Streaks taking a 42-7 victory.
Ross’ first offensive play did not go as planned. Starting from its own 1-yard line, Ross fumbled on its first run of the game, the ball squirting backward into the end zone. Quarterback Kaden Holmes pounced on it, preventing a Sandusky touchdown, but giving up a safety instead.
Ross’ ensuing kickoff came from its own 20 and ended in a 75-yard return for a touchdown, putting Ross in a quick 9-0 hole less than five minutes into the game.
The Little Giants, however, got things going by the end of the first quarter with a run up the middle by Andrew Born for a 35-yard touchdown, trimming the deficit to 9-7.
Ross’ defense more than held its own against Sandusky’s big-play offense, holding the Blue Streaks to just 74 yards of offense at halftime with running back Terion Stewart limited to 34 yards on five carries at the break.
But Ross wasn’t done committing costly miscues.
Early in the second quarter, punting from the 28-yard line, Ross fumbled the snap, which was recovered by the Blue Streaks and returned for a touchdown and a 16-7 lead.
The Little Giants’ ensuing possession was its best offensive drive of the day. Beginning at its own 20, Ross marched inside Sandusky’s 3-yard line, thanks to a 64-yard screen pass from Kaden Holmes to Andrew Born.
But Ross was unable to punch the ball into the end zone and instead, settled for a 20-yard field goal attempt which was blocked by Sandusky and returned 97-yards for a 23-7 lead.
Sandusky nearly added to its lead following Ross’ next possession, returning a punt for a touchdown only to have it called back due to a holding penalty.
“That’s unacceptable. That’s all phases (of special teams),” Ross coach Chad Long said. “We ask our young guys to step up and play and give us good effort running down the field and we’re not getting that.”
After going three-and-out to begin the third quarter, Ross managed to get the punt away – but barely – and a short kick gave Sandusky good field position. The Blue Streaks drove 45 yards in six plays and capped the drive with a 1-yard run by senior running back Terion Stewart to extend the lead to 30-7.
Stewart struck again late in the quarter, breaking through the right side of the line and taking off for an 80-yard score. Stewart finished with 156 yards on 12 carries.
Sandusky picked up another long touchdown run, a 75-yard quarterback keeper by JJ Henry.
“We were able to stop them in the first half, I don’t know why it’s be any different in the second half,” Long said. “We knew what they were going to do, we went in with the same gameplan and they didn’t do anything different. We just didn’t make plays. We didn’t tackle.”
Ross finished with 267 yards of offense, only nine fewer than Sandusky. Holmes completed 9-of-25 passes for 118 yards. Born finished with 68 yards on eight carries.
“Honestly, I thought Kaden Holmes did a great job running the option. He’s developing,” Long said. “His composure is unreal for a young kid that age. We’re going to continue to grow with him, he’s going to continue to become a better football player. I think this year is a huge learning curve for him but he’s adapting very well, he understands this offense and he’s doing a great job, he really is.”
The Little Giants are 1-2 overall and begin Three Rivers Athletic Conference play next week as they host St. Francis.
Sandusky 42, Fremont Ross 7
Score by quarter
SHS| 9—14—13—6 42
FR| 7—0—0—0 7
S – Safety, 7:31
S – Noah Caston 75 return (Michael Franklin kick), 7:16
FR – Andrew Born 25 run (Alec Slemmer kick), 2:23
S – London Havens 14 fumble return (Franklin kick), 9:40
S – Blocked field goal return 97 yards (Franklin kick), 5:53
S— Terion Stewart 1 run (Franklin kick), 7:35
S – Stewart 80 run (kick fail), 1:32
S – JJ Henry 75 run (kick fail), 9:37