Penalties, inexperience too much for Rockets
TOLONO – Good defense in football doesn't always translate into victory.
Unity's Rockets found that out Friday in a 19-12 homecoming loss to defending Class 2A champion Maroa-Forsyth in an Okaw Valley Conference game at Hicks Field.
The Rockets defense played a lot as the offense contributed very little as the Trojans extended their two-year winning streak to 18 games with their fourth win of the season.
"We've been giving our defense the ball on a short field far too often this year," Unity coach Scott Hamilton said after the loss dropped the Rockets to 2-2. "The defense was on the field far too much."
Three of the four Trojan scores came on drives of 56 yards or less. Tyler Roush's 7-yard run climaxed a 46-yard drive for the first score after the Trojans forced a Unity punt from the Rocket 15. A 7-yard Justin Barnes pass to Troy Davis increased the lead to 13-0 late in the second quarter after the Trojans took over on their own 44 after a short Chris Ault punt. Alex Chiligiris hit his first of two second-half field goals after Maroa-Forsyth recovered an onside kick of the Rocket 40 to start the second half. The only sustained Trojan drive of the evening was a 66-yarder climaxed by Chiligiris's fourth-quarter field goal.
"We're young and inexperienced," Hamilton said, "and we didn't play very smart. We tried to script our plays at the start of the game. We executed our first three plays and were called for penalties on two of them. It was all downhill from there. It's tough to run our offense with a freshman fullback (Matt Franks)."
Despite the lack of offense, the Rockets were close to going into halftime tied or even leading by a point. Cody Roberts returned Chiligiris' kickoff 89 yards to cut the Maroa-Forsyth lead to 13-6 following the Barnes-to-Davis TD pass. Defensive end Andrew Holloway was caught from behind on the Trojan 12 on the final play of the first half after recovering a Barnes fumble around midfield.
"I wish I had looked back," Holloway say, "but that's something they tell us never to do. I was running as fast as I could. I thought I was going to make it until someone jumped on me from behind. We knew their main players and knew what we had to do on defense. The penalties are what hurt us on both sides of the ball. We just have to keep working to get better."
Roberts accounted for both Rocket scores with the second one coming on a 25-yard pass from Ault with 48 seconds left in the game.
"I just followed my blocking," Roberts said of his scoring return. "The touchdown pass was not one of our main plays. It was something the coaches drew up on the sidelines. Our offense was terrible. We lost two fumbles and kept messing up. You can't afford to do that in big games.."