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Posted: 10/03/12

Above, Blake Williams tries to catch the ball that was tipped by the safety during the varsity's game against Port Huron last Friday. Below top, Adam Davis looks down to make sure he is in bounds after the ball was passed to him late in the 4th quarter against Port Huron. Below center, Mitch Pacitti in stride as he tries to catch the ball in the Port Huron game. Below bottom, Quarterback Evan Richardson with a quarterback keeper being tackled early in the 1st quarter in the Port Huron game.

(Observer photos by Mike Nicley)

Playoff hopes still alive
after Port Hurton win

Observer Sports Writer
      Still alive!
       The Romeo High varsity football team kept its MHSAA state playoffs hopes alive by defeating Port Huron 21-20 in a MAC crossover game Friday night at Port Huron's Memorial Field.
       With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 3-3 on the year with three games to go. It takes six wins to automatically qualify for the playoffs but it won't be easy as they host their fiercest rival Utica Eisenhower (4-2) this week for homecoming.
       "It is such an important game but we have to keep the distractions to a minimum," said Romeo senior Austin Bernard. "We have a lot to play for and we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder having lost to them twice in the playoffs in two years, but we can't get too high too soon. We don't play on Monday or Tuesday."
       Against Port Huron, Romeo opened the scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Joe Gardner on a direct snap with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter. Kicker George Pollak added the point after giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
       The Big Reds tied the game 7-7 midway through the second quarter when quarterback Mark Chapman (Central Michigan) scored on a 5-yard run.
       "He is very good," said Bernard of Chapman. "He is without a doubt the fastest player I have ever faced before.
       Senior quarterback Evan Richardson (10 carries for 51 yards) gave the Bulldogs the lead again when he finished a drive with a 3-yard run, giving Romeo a 14-7 lead with 55 seconds remaining.
       Romeo increased its lead to 21-7 in the third quarter when junior running back Mitchell Hess scored his first touchdown of the season from 9-yards out.
       Hess' touchdown run was set up by a pouch onside kick from the Bulldogs to open the second half.
       "It worked in the first half so we thought we should try it again," said Bernard, who recovered the second kick. "The coaches did a good job of seeing and taking advantage of their soft spot in the middle and it worked twice."
       Seemingly, nothing comes easy this season for Romeo however, as the Big Reds, led by Chapman's throwing arm and legs, staged a late comeback.
       Port Huron cut the Bulldogs' lead 21-14 on a 14-yard scoring run by Carl Portis-Hollier with 5:05 remaining in the fourth, then cut it further 21-20 when Chapman hooked up with Jalen Esters for a 6-yard TD pass with 1:59 to play. However, the point after kick attempt was no good and Romeo still led by one.
       The Bulldogs tried to run out the clock but failed to do so, giving the Big Reds the ball back with over a minute still to play and they wasted no time getting right back in scoring position inside the Romeo 20-yard line.
       Unfortunately for Port Huron, which had no timeouts, missed communication led to Chapman taking a knee instead of spiking the ball to set up the field goal attempt, ending the game.
       "It took us all a few seconds to realize what had just happened," said Bernard of the Chapman kneel down. "One second we were getting ready to try and stop this guy (Chapman) from winning the game, to confusion and then elation when we won. Not the ending we were expecting but we'll take it."
       Richardson completed 8-of-20 passes for 113 yards and three interceptions on the night.
       Trevor Medley had one reception for 42 yards for Romeo; Adam Davis had one for 20 yards, Mitch Pacitti 1 for 9 yards, Blake Williams 2 for 23 yards and Zach Rizo had three catches for 19 yards. Hess added 12 carries for 48 yards and one touchdown; Gardner had six carries for 20 yards and a touchdown for Romeo, which finished with 126 yards on the ground and 113 in the air for a 239 total.
       Gardner led the Bulldogs defensively with 11 tackles, Mike Archutowski had nine tackles, Bernard had eight tackles, Williams was next with six and Trent Satur had five tackles and one sack.
       Romeo will take on Eisenhower Friday night at Barnabo Field at 7 p.m. Ike leads the series, which began in 1971, 13-9 overall.
       The Bulldogs dominated the series early on, winning seven of the first 10 games between the two schools. However, Ike has taken the lead, winning eight of the last nine games, including two playoff wins in 2010 and 2011.

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