TOLEDO – The writing was on the wall at halftime and it wasn’t telling a happy tale for Fremont Ross Friday night.
Though there was still half a game yet to play, the final outcome was already certain. So the Little Giant coaching staff’s message was simple: Fight.
“All we say is give it whatever you have,” head coach Chad Long said. “Fight for us. We ain’t going to quit, as coaches, and you better not quit on our seniors. We have to continue to play four quarters of football. And we did.”
Trailing by 37 points at halftime, the Little Giants wanted to get within 30, to halt the running clock, which began with the start of the third quarter. Ross managed to do it too, as the Little Giants outscored St. John’s 13-0 in the second half en route to a 37-13 loss.
“We outscored them, obviously it wasn’t their varsity, but it’s tough,” Long said. “We’re playing with a lot of inexperienced kids. We have to put the best kids we possibly can out there, unfortunately sometimes there’s other teams with second (team players) that could be better than our kids. But our kids aren’t giving up. They’re trying. we understand we’re young and the future is looking bright.”
St. John’s wasted little time asserting themselves. The Titans scored on the opening possession of the game, then recovered the ensuing squib kick after it bounced over the heads of the Ross’ front line on the kickoff. St. John’s soon took its second possession for another touchdown, taking a 14-0 lead before the Little Giant offense touched the ball.
Ross’ second offensive snap of the game ended in an interception return for a touchdown and a 21-0 Titan lead less than three minutes into the game.
The Titans scored on every first half drive and totaled 340 yards by halftime. Quarterback Braydon Lichtenberg completed 17-of-23 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
“That’s a great quarterback they have over there,” Long said. “It was so technical. He sees a blitz, he’s there. We’re literally just a foot or two away, no matter what we did, it was chess match. Credit to them. They have some really good players over they and they understand that system very well. That’s where we want to be as a program.”
After totaling -4 total yards, including an interception, on its first three drives, Ross changed quarterbacks from freshman Kaden Holmes to senior Cyrus Lagrou. With Lagrou running the offense, Ross began to move the ball late in the first half. Ross looked poised put points on the board late in the first half only to turn the ball over on downs at the Titans’ 1-yard line after failing to convert on fourth down by mere inches.
But the second half began with Ross driving 64 yards, capped by a 5-yard keeper by Lagrou for the Little Giants’ first score of the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, after the defense stopped St. John’s inside Ross’ 10-yard line, Lagrou and the offense engineered a 12-play drive, marching 92 yards. Lagrou found Darrian Ayers in the end zone from four yards out to stop the running clock with 2:29 remaining in the game.
Lagrou finished the night 14-of-24 for 138 yards, with one interception.
“Right now, the kids want to play for him and we’re going to go with it,” Long said. “Right now, I don’t know what’s going on with Kaden, but the last two weeks has not been good for him. We, as coaches, are going to figure it out, but most likely we’ll be going with Cyrus next week. I think he deserves it.”
Ross (1-5 overall, 0-3 TRAC) travels to Lima Senior next week to face the Spartans (2-4, 0-3) who, like Ross, have lost four in a row, including a 31-0 loss to Whitmer Friday night.
St. John’s 37, Fremont Ross 13
Score by quarters
FR| 0—0—6—7 13
SJ| 24 – 13—0—0 37
SJ – Jack Ryder 25 pass from Braydon Lichtenberg (Gabriel Chlebowski kick), 10:56
SJ – Thomas Zsiros 11 pass from Lichtenberg (Chlebowski kick), 10:04
SJ – Gary Batch interception return (Chlebowski kick), 9:13
SJ – Chlebowski 30 field goal, 3:19
SJ—CJ Valentine 9 run (kick blocked), 10:47
SJ— Zsiros 7 pass from Lichtenberg (Chlebowski kick), 1:01
FR – Cyrus Lagrou 5 run (run fail), 6:28
FR – Darrion Ayers (Alec Slemmer kick), 2:29