By Bill Bray
FREMONT – It is beginning to sound like a broken record, if any of you know what a broken record is. The moral of the story is that your offense must score more point than your defense gives up to be able to win. Ross is in a real slump making that happen.
The game started the way three of the last four have, the opponent, this time Toledo Whitmer, got off to a fast start going out on top of Ross 14-0 in the first quarter. The Little Giants were able to answer one of Whitmer’s two scores. With most of the first quarter gone, the Little Giants’ hard running fullback Kelandre Jones punched in from the 1-yard line to make the score 14-7 in Whitmer’s favor. Jones, later in the game, left the field and headed to the emergency room after being cleated in the finger. It appears the senior’s season is over due to the injury. Prayers for a speedy recovery for Kelandre.
With the score 14-7, Whitmer dominated the Ross defense one more time before the quarter ending with a one-yard Jimmy Deliey run to put Whitmer up 21-7 with :45 remaining in the first quarter.
Ross fought back behind quarterback Kaden Holmes. The “never say die” All-Ohio quarterback ended the Little Giant’s offensive series with a 13-yard scoring pass to Adam Hrynciw. The two teams traded touchdowns in the second 12 minutes of play. First it was Whitmer with Taron Crawford running for a 35-yard touchdown untouched as he broke through the line. Whitmer’s extra point was good and with 4:45 left in the half the Panthers were up 28-13.
With Holmes, the Little Giant offense can never be discounted. Between some nice sprints around the right side of the Fremont line including guard Adrian Garcia and tackle Kaden Mayle Holmes was able to pick up some valuable real estate. On the final scoring play of the first half, Holmes found Bryson Hammer with a seven-yard strike. Hammer made an unbelievable catch to close the Whitmer advantage to 9 points as the half ended.
With Whitmer getting the kickoff to start the second half, it was Fremont’s plan to force them into a punting situation and letting the Little Giant offense on the field to make some plays and score. The best laid plans. Whitmer took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and proceeded down field with the touchdown going to Crawford at the 9:01 mark in the quarter to put the Panthers up 35-19.
Holmes led his offense to six more points just about nine minutes later on a seven-yard touchdown run to close the Whitmer lead to 10 at 35-25. But again, a chance for extra points went bad when a Holmes pass to Elijah Simms fell incomplete.
After a defensive stop for Ross, any hopes of another Ross score was dashed when a Holmes pass was batted and then intercepted by Whitmer’s Logan Frank who took the tipped ball and went untouched into the endzone to grow the Panthers lead to 42-25.
The Ross offense continued to try to keep up with the point production by Whitmer. With 5:21 left in the game the Giants got one last score on a three-yard run from Holmes.
It was a fact that during this TRAC contest Ross lost a chance for six extra points during the game.
Statistically, the Little Giants led the game in total offense collecting 453 yards to Whitmer’s 351. Ross led in the passing statistic as well with 241 Kaden Holmes yards to 120 for Whitmer.
Individually, Holmes hit on just 12 of 31 attempts for the 241 yards and added two touchdown passes along with a pair of interceptions.
The game’s leading ball carrier was Taron Crawford who toted the pigskin 34 times for 198 yards and four scores. Holmes led Ross with 21 carries for 153 yards and two scores.
Adam Hrynciw led the Little Giant receiving corps. with 98 yards on three receptions and one touchdown. Bryson Hammer was a yard behind Hrynciw with 97 yards on five receptions and a spectacular one-handed catch for a score.
Defensively for Ross, Mason Villarreal was a busy man once again as the senior linebacker gathered in 16 more assisted tackles along with nine other tackles one of which was solo.
So, the Little Giants conclude their regular season with a record of 6-4 and 3-4 in the disbanding Three Rivers Athletic Conference. With the regular season now over, Ross looks forward to the state playoffs of which they will be a part of for the 10th time in school history. “I feel good going into the playoffs,” coach Chad Long said. “As good as I possibly can after a loss,” Long added. We aren’t banged up too badly at this point other than our fullback Kelandre Jones who got cleated in the hand and had to be taken to the hospital. So, we will evaluate and go into our ‘second season’ ready to play.”
Per Joeeitel.com the Little Giants sit eighth in region 6 of Division II. Their opponent is being shown as #9 North Royalton (6-4) who Ross beat 27-17 in the first round of the playoffs last season. The game will take place at Don Paul Stadium for the second year in a row.