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High School Football

High school football: Buckeye's big lead shrinks as Rocky River awakens in the fourth

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YORK TWP. — When your team is up four touchdowns in the second half, you don’t want to see that lead disappear.

Yet that’s what Buckeye fans were beginning to think when Rocky River recovered from a big third-quarter deficit and began playing some ball.

In a non-league game where Buckeye held on to win 28-21 win, the Bucks raced out to a big lead when Dom Monaco scored this third touchdown on an 11- yard run early in the third quarter.

The scoring run hiked a 21-0 halftime lead to 28-0 after Clay Gunkelman’s fourth straight conversion.

Buckeye (1-1) owned the first half on a powerful running game, with quarterback Jacob Doerge, still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered during 7-on-7 drills early this summer, showing his stuff with 14 carries for 110 yards in the first half.

The junior totaled 174 yards on 22 carries, with Monaco adding another 124 on 16 carries.

“Hats off to my line,” said Doerge, who admitted to being sore. “They did a great job, especially in the first half.”

Buckeye coach Greg Dennison noted that Doerge was just rounding into shape, as is Anthony Watkins. Both missed most of two-a-day summer drills. Also, senior linebacker Everett Hopkins played his first game after returning from injury.

The visiting Pirates (1-1), who were able to muster just three first downs in the first half, suddenly roared to life.

Down 28-0, Ladarius Dedham returned the kickoff to Buckeye’s 41. A fourth-down pass from Michael Finnegan fell incomplete, but pass interference was called, prolonging the drive and moving the ball inside the 10-yard line.

The drive moved into the final stanza, helped by another penalty, before Denham banged into the end zone from 2 yards out.

Still, a 28-7 count in the fourth quarter seemed safe, especially after Doerge broke his last big run, 53 yards to the 16-yard line, with eight minutes left.

Three plays later, as Monaco hit the line, the ball popped out and defensive back Mike Shoaf ran 80 yards untouched to make it 28-14.

“I saw the handoff and saw the movement stopped,” Doerge said. “I thought the play was dead.”

The Bucks then went three-and-out and punted, only to see the Pirates storm downfield in five plays, fueled by a couple big passes from Finnegan (10-for-23, 167 yards).

Denham eventually put up his second touchdown and Buckeye’s lead was down to 28-21 with 3:33 remaining.

Buckeye recovered an onside kick, then held the ball the rest of the game, Monaco helped the Bucks kill the clock with three first-down conversions.

“We made the plays when we needed to,” Dennison said. “I’m proud of them. We eliminated some of our mistakes from last week (a 43-6 loss to Revere) and took a big step. That’s a good (Rocky River) team and they will win some games.”

Contact Harry H. Peck at sports@medina-gazette.com.

Buckeye 28, Rocky River 21

ROCKY RIVER 0 0 0 21 — 21

BUCKEYE 7 14 7 0 — 28

First

B — Dom Monaco 11 run (Clay Gunkelman kick), 2:42.

Second

B — Jacob Doerge 36 run (Gunkelman kick), 8:06.

B — Monaco 2 run (Gunkelman kick), 1:45.

Third

B — Monaco 11 run (Gunkelman kick) 2:57.

Fourth

R — Ladarius Denham 2 run (Owen Bebie kick), 10:42.

R — Mike Shoaf 80 fumble return (Bebie kick), 7:08.

R — Denham 2 run (Bebie kick), 3:33.

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