BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
PORT CLINTON — A slow start in the second half proved to be too much for Port Clinton to overcome as it lost to Rossford, 27-20. Holding a 7-3 lead at halftime, the Bulldogs (2-0) scored 20 of the first 26 points of the second half before holding off the Redskins (0-2).
Rossford’s Lukas Klotz caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Kromenacker, making it 14-3 following Jackson Murtha’s extra point. But Port Clinton answered, scoring when Jonah Sidney caught a short pass from Colton Klima and took it 77 yards for the score, cutting the deficit to 14-9 before the extra point was blocked.
Rossford responded, driving 69 yards in seven plays and scoring when Kromenacker ran it in from three yards out to give the Bulldogs a 21-9 lead with 7:50 to play in the third quarter. The key play of the drive came when Kromenacker connected with Jamari Croom on a 50-yard pass on third-and-10.
Rossford pushed the lead to 27-9 when Croom caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Kromenacker on third-and-15 midway thru the fourth quarter.
Port Clinton answered the touchdown with one of their own, driving 55 yards in six plays and scoring when Klima connected with Connor Gillum from 28 yards out with 4:05 remaining. The two-point conversion, which came on a Klima to Zayne Manning connection, made it 27-17.
The ‘Skins then recovered the onside kick, but the officials incorrectly ruled that the player who recovered the ball went out of bounds before possessing the ball. That allowed the Bulldogs to run nearly two minutes off the clock, and Port Clinton did not get the ball back until the 2:17 mark.
The ‘Skins would drive to the Rossford 11 before the drive stalled, and Hunter Mominee kicked a 28-yard field goal.
Port Clinton failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, and the game was effectively over.
The mistake made on the onside kick was the second critical miscue by the officiating crew. The first one came when Port Clinton had a field goal blocked and the ball went backward, meaning that the play was live. Mominee picked up the ball, but the officials said the play was dead and claimed there was an inadvertent whistle.
“Regardless, we got outplayed. We got exposed where we are weak. We are weak in multiple places, and until we really take some strides, it’s going to be a repetitive theme,” said Port Clinton coach Beau Carmon. “It was tough sledding running the ball again. They were running on that front with two more guys off the edge. They had seven guys in the box and they’d bring six off the edge and pinch everyone on the inside. When teams do that, you have to make them pay through the air. Colton played well.
“The offensive and defensive lines, we’re not there. On Friday night, I started two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman on our offensive line, (and) none of them had started a game before this year. We just need to continue practicing hard.”
Klima finished with a good game, completing 22-of-42 passes for 286 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Sidney caught four passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Cooper Stine finished with three receptions and 56 yards and Gillum had six catches for 53 yards.
“It’s tough on Colton because we’ve had issues running the football. We need to be more balanced, and that’s very difficult to do when you have so many first-year players,” said Carmon. “I love this group of kids. They work hard, they’re great kids, they don’t quit, and they block. They just don’t have the strength yet. As far as our offensive and defensive lines are concerned, they’re doing the best we can. I know we’re doing the best we can as a staff. We are confident the wins are coming our way.”
Port Clinton travels to Norwalk this week to face the Truckers, who are 1-1 coming off a 42-20 victory over Huron. Norwalk captured a regional championship last season.
“Nobody in the world expects us to win it,” Carmon said. “There’s no pressure going into it. We’ll open the playbook a little bit and letit go.”