So far this season, Rocky River’s defense has, more often than not, delivered big plays when they’ve been needed. Offensively, running back Andreas Tjotjos has been the Pirates’ go-to guy.
None of that changed Friday night.
The Pirate D stayed the course in Vermilion, holding the Sailors to under 200 yards in total offense in a 14-6 win to open West Shore Conference play. Meanwhile, Tjotjos had another monster game as River moved to 3-1 on the season.
The 6-1, 182 senior carried the ball 17 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. That score came on a four-yard run in the third quarter, putting some space between the Pirates and their stubborn hosts.
“That score was huge,” said River head coach Rick Adams after his team had returned from its out-west trip.
“Tjotjos’ touchdown gave us a little bit of breathing room,” Adams said. “And with the way our defense was playing, it put a lot of pressure on them to not only score, but make a two-point conversion to tie it.”
The Pirates took the lead in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Alex Theiling, making his second varsity start, scored on a one-yard plunge. Xhuljo Harunaj made the first of two conversion kicks on the night, and it was 7-0 Pirates.
The defense also set the tone in the first quarter and provided some early momentum. With the Sailors driving and down inside the River 15-yard line, sophomore Billy Pelger recovered a fumble to end the threat.
Vermilion’s only score of the game came on a short pass play late in the second quarter. The Sailors missed the extra point, making it 7-6 at the half. They ran the ball well, gaining 151 yards on 42 attempts, but completed just four of 14 passes for 31 yards.
“Our defense did a great job,” Adams said. “Vermilion ran the ball a lot and was able to move the ball between the 20s. But we were pretty much in a ‘bend, but don’t break’ mode and made the defensive plays when we needed to.”
River, 1-0 in the WSC, will return home next Friday night for Homecoming and host a red-hot Midview team. The Middies, now 3-1, greeted Elyria Catholic into the league by thrashing the Panthers, 34-7, at Adelsberg Stadium.
Demons hold on to get past Comets
Westlake, on the final play of the game, got a game-saving tackle from Shawn Turk to stop Amherst at the Demon five-yard line and preserve a 35-27.
The Demons moved to 3-1 overall and opened Southwestern Conference play with its thrilling win over the Comets, who fell to 1-3 overall.
“They definitely had a shot at the end,” said Demons head coach Mark Campo. “We had stopped their big fullback twice, then Shawn was able to make that stop for about a one-yard gain.
“They ran the ball pretty well against us, but we hung in there at the end. Our defense stepped up with the game on the line and made the plays they needed to make,” he said. “Our offensive line did a good job tonight too.
“Anytime you can put 35 points up on the board, it’s a good thing,” he added.
Senior running back Jonathan Brick had another 100-yard effort and scored three touchdowns on the night. He scored his second TD on a 5-yard run to cap off the Demons’ opening drive of the second half. That made the score 28-14, Westlake.
Brick would score his third touchdown of the game later in the quarter after Amherst had answered to make it 28-20. That’s when the Comets missed their conversion kick, accounting the the eight-point differential.
Amherst scored again the the fourth quarter, but the Demon defense managed to hold the visitors out of the end zone the rest of the way.
It was also another bit night for the Phil Brusk-to-Kyle Perkins combination.
Westlake had taken a 14-0 lead, but Amherst had answered to tie the game at 14-14 in the second quarter. Perkins, who had scored earlier on a short pass from Brusk, hauled in a 52-yard scoring pass with 3:30 left in the first half to give Westlake a 21-14 halftime advantage.
Westlake will remain at Lou Duchez Field next Friday night when it hosts North Olmsted. The Eagles dropped a 45-23 decision at Avon Lake to fall to 1-3 on the season.
Rockets blanked by Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin
Bay, in its final non-conference game of the season, made the long trek out east and came back home with a 29-0 shutout loss to fall to 1-3 on the season.
The Rockets will open their WSC season next Friday night when they host Vermilion.