For the first time in 2020, the Titusville football team played with the lead as the Rockets held a one-point advantage over the visiting Warren Dragons in Friday’s Region 6 finale at Carter Field. However, three consecutive big plays from the Dragons offense in the closing minutes of the second quarter proved costly and put the game out of reach for the Rockets, as Warren rallied for a 45-13 victory.
Warren rushed for 346 yards on 43 carries during the contest, good for an 8.05 average per rush. Nineteen Dragon plays went for 10 yards or more as James Swanson eclipsed double digits in rushing yards (193) and receiving yards (116) while getting a touchdown in each avenue.
Swanson hauled in a 48-yard pass from Landon Douvlos that went the distance while also sprinting across the goal line on a 48-yard run. Micah Passmore added rushing touchdowns of 1 and 5 yards, while Alex Borger (30), Sam Harvey (2) and Tommy Nyquist (1) punched the ball into the end zone on the ground.
After the game Titusville coach Bryan Baldwin pointed right to “unforced errors and not being able to tackle” as the reasons for the defeat.
“We can’t give up the big play, like those reverses and the home run ball,” Baldwin said. “We cannot commit the unforced errors; penalties and taking sacks. We showed that we can move the ball, but then we shot ourselves in the foot.”
After Warren scored on Passmore’s 1-yard plunge to cap off its opening seven-play, 54-yard drive, Titusville took its first lead of the season on the ensuing possession.
A 23-yard connection from Garrett Knapp to Brock Covell, along with a handful of positive rushes from Kolin Baker set up first-and-goal at the Warren 4. It may have taken three attempts on the ground, but Baker crossed the goal line on a 1-yard dive to knot the score. CJ Bromley converted the PAT to give the Rockets a 7-6 lead with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Titusville defense gave their offense the chance to extend the lead after snuffing out a Warren fake punt pass attempt that fell incomplete on fourth-and-9 from the Titusville 47. Immediately, the Rockets took advantage of the short field with a 20-yard strike from Knapp to Covell to put the ball at the Warren 33.
However, things would take a turn for the worse, as the Rockets went the wrong direction on the next two plays, including a fumbled snap. Then, Knapp was strip-sacked with the Dragons recovering the ball at their own 40 with just under six minutes left in the half.
“We were balanced,” Baldwin said. “Garrett hit Brock a couple times and we ran the ball. Offensively, we have to seize the momentum and not commit those unforced errors.”
It was a turning point in the game, as Warren scored on their next three possessions on three straight big offensive plays to pull away at the break 25-7. Swanson notched his 48-yard score on a fourth-and-8 reverse before Borger scored on a 30-yard reverse. Swanson’s 48-yard reception from Douvlos and an Alex Ziegler PAT capped the run.
Passmore’s 5-yard touchdown rush opened the half for Warren before Harvey punched the ball across the goal line from 2 yards out after a Rocket three-and-out. Leading 39-7 heading into the fourth quarter, Nyquist’s 1-yard dive ended a string of 39 unanswered points for the visitors, as Warren led 45-7 with 10:16 remaining.
Titusville then took over at their own 40 and had four successful rushes for 14 yards before Warren forced a fumble on the back end of a Covell reception in Dragons territory that was recovered by Blake Arnold. However, the Rockets defense forced a takeaway of its own when Braden Johnson picked off Douvlos at the Warren 20 to give Titusville one more shot with good field position.
It only took three plays for the Rockets to notch their final score of the evening. Jack Elan scored from 5 yards out on the ground for the score with 4:15 remaining. It was the final score of the night and a bright spot for Baldwin’s team.
“There’s tons of things to be proud of, but we just have to work on not committing those unforced errors,” Baldwin said.
Baker rushed for 72 yards to lead the team, while Covell hauled in three passes for 50 yards. Nate Stearns added 28 and 26 rushing and receiving yards, respectively.
Titusville will travel to Maplewood next week to wrap up the 2020 season. Maplewood fell at home against Northwestern 13-12 on Friday.
“It’s a game that we want to make an annual thing, kind of like a trophy game,” Baldwin said. “We’re so close geographically, and it should be a good game.”