A shift in momentum can change a game in a heartbeat.
Titusville was down 20-6 at the start of the second half but the ball around midfield with momentum. They decided to take a shot. Jaxon Covell started sprinting down the right side of the field as quarterback Ian McDonald dropped back to pass.
Coveell had some daylight and began anglingg away from the Meadville defender who were closing on him as McDonald's pass sailed through the air.
Had the ball been thrown to the outside shoulder it was six points and a huge momentum shift. But Meadville's Ryan Reichel jumped in front and went sky high to bring down the interception. What was looking like the Rockets coming out firing was suddenly squashed and they were back trying to stop the Bulldogs from moving the ball.
"We had a situation and we called a play. We just went for it and it didn’t work out our way. I’ll never fault kids for aggressively going after something. We could’ve called something else," Coach Mike Reynolds said.
He knows the Rocket's performance Thursday night could've had a much different outcome if just a few things went right instead of wrong
Another play early in the contest could've given them early momentum, instead it gave it to Meadville.
Titusville appeared to have stripped the ball out of the hands of a Bulldog runner, but they did not get the call. The refs either weren't in the right position to see the ball stripped, or they determined the runner was down. Either way Meadville kept possession and the Rockets stayed on defense. It was a big call because Meadville scored eventually on the drive putting the Rockets in a position of fighting from behind.
Reynolds didn’t lament, he looked for the positives in the 33-6 loss to the 3-1 Bulldogs.
“If you look at our defensive line, we played in Meadville’s backfield on numerous plays, we had balls that we stripped. We did multiple things that a couple weeks ago we didn’t do,” he said.
Other than the giving up over 70 points to Sharpsville, it has been the little things that have kept the Rockets from being 3-1 instead of 1-3.
Thursday night was a prime example. The Rockets were just inches away from good luck going their way. They got the ball first and couldn’t move it at all. This resulted in a punt and Meadville moving down for the score after eating up much of the first quarter. They the Dawgs had two penalties in a row on successful extra point attempts forcing them to try for a long two-point conversion. On the pass a Titusville sender got fingertips on the ball but not enough to knock it away.
Instead of six or seven to zero, it was 8-0.
But Rockets bounced right back taking the ball 65-yards down the field themselves setting up an Ian McDonald score.
The Rockets failed to convert, keeping the score at 8-6.
That’s as close as the Rocket's would get all night.
Despite the defense getting more than one turnover, they couldn’t convert those into points.
“The enjoyment is obviously in the winning, but there are just a lot of good things these kids are doing,” Reynolds said. “These are really good kids, they’re communicating with us, they are very much in the game … and they are understanding what is going on and they want to contribute in a positive way."
There is no question their schedule has been difficult thus far. Other than Franklin they have faced playoff caliber teams.
But they now enter a stretch of games where they should be able to test their skills and potentially build on momentum the rest of the way.
Though they’ll have to kick it into gear on the road for three straight weeks, they are facing teams that can be beat in the next four games.
They travel to Seneca next week to face the 0-3 Bobcats,
They then head to Linesville to face Conneaut, who has only beaten Seneca.
Then they head up 408 to face Maplewood who has only scored 19-points this season.
They return home against Warren, who is also without a win to this point, have give up 185 points and only scored 13.
They have potential of going into the Oil City contest at 5-3 on the season,.
They will close out the season against another struggling team that has yet to win, Corry.
Though Titusville is only 1-3 at this point they really were not far off being 2-2 or even 3-1 and if they play continue to play well a winning season is not out the realm of possibility.
“Tomorrow is a refocus day We just want to focus on those fundamentals,” Reynolds said. “It’s real important they continue getting better regardless of who we’re playing. You see who is on our schedule for the end of the season. If we improve every week through the end of the season it’s going to be a good time.”