Takeaways: Roosevelt football hangs on to down Jefferson
Sometimes it can be tough to play with the lead.
Roosevelt High School football felt that challenge on the road Thursday night, OCt. 7, against league rival Jefferson.
Up 22-6 in the fourth quarter, the Democrats stormed back to tie the game at 22 with 3:31 left in the game.
But the Roughriders kept their poise and, thanks in part to a kick return by Izaya Laguardia to the Demos 18, found the end zone one last time to hold on for a 28-22 win.
Here are three takeaways from the Riders Special District 1 win:
Defense mostly stout
Roosevelt (5-1, 3-0 SD1) held the Jefferson (3-3, 3-1 SD1) offensive attack in check until the fourth quarter, stuffing the Demos rushing attack in the middle.
Senior quarterback Dondrae Fair did his best to keep Jefferson in it with plenty of runs to the outside, but nothing was working up the middle.
"In my seven or eight years coaching football, I've never had an O-line and a D-line," Roosevelt coach Ryan McCants said. "It just speaks to our depth and how we're able to rotate bodies and keep people fresh. I think that was shown in how they were able to bottle up the run at times."
Fair was left running to the outside also because the passing game was nonexistent. Fair was 2 for 13 for -1 yard passing.
Oregon commit wideout Tre'Jon Williams was held without a catch, but did have an interception on the defensive side of the ball.
Jefferson finished with 187 yards of offense, 188 on the ground and 117 of it picked by Fair.
"I think our defense is a great group of guys, and I think we've all really bought in," Izaya Laguardia said. "We all work together well, we play really well. I definitely feel like we're underrated at the moment. … I wasn't surprised we pulled it off to be honest with you."
Roosevelt QB Imarion Kelly didn't have the best night passing like his opposition in Fair. The senior was 6 for 13 for 80 yards, but did have two TDs and two interceptions.
Kelly also lost a fumble the next possession after Jefferson pulled within 22-14 that led to the game-tying touchdown and 2-point conversion from Jeffrey Mott Jr., his second rushing TD of the game.
After the big kickoff return, two holding penalties pushed the Roughriders back to the Demos 32-yard line.
Despite all that had gone wrong though, Kelly hit Jackson Flatner on a screen, and the wideout did the rest on a 32-yard score to seal the game.
"What I can tell you about 1 (Kelly) is he's a passionate player, but in those crunch times he's cool, calm and collected," McCants said. "Even though he made a mistake, he was ready to bounce back, and I looked in his eyes and I knew he was ready to go."
Kelly also rushed for one score and had 36 yards on the ground. Alain Yao had the other Roughriders touchdown on a 5-yard score. He finished with 26 yards on five carries.
On the ensuing possession for Jefferson, which was returned to its own 45-yard line, the Roughriders' defense went back to keeping the Demos in check and forced them to turn it over on downs on four plays.
"The feeling was very intense, and I think as a team it tested ourselves to come together as one and rally back," Laguardia said. "I feel like that was a great opportunity for us to show our character and how we are as a family."
No time to rest
After a forfeit from Ida B. Wells, Grant moved to 4-0 in SD1 play, but 4-3 overall after dropping its replacement game against Clackamas 48-14 on Thursday.
The two teams left in SD1 undefeated meet next week at Roosevelt in a matchup that could decide the league winner.
"It's a bit early to start talking about a league title," McCants said. "What I want is for our team to come out Saturday, come out on Monday and string together our best week of practice and see what happens when they come to us on Friday."
Grant, itself, has a strong offense that can break off for big numbers, leaving the Roughriders defense to perform similarly to how they did Thursday against Jefferson.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 15.
"Defensively, we just need to work on the mental mistakes," Laguardia said. "I know our guys get tired playing both sides of the ball. We just have to condition our minds way better and keep doing what we're doing."
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