PLYMOUTHâ€”It was Homecoming night for the Rockies who made it a memorable one by games end. The Elkart Memorial Chargers were looking to snap a three game losing streak against the Rockies but big plays by new faces for Plymouth, finalized a 21-14 comeback win over the Chargers.
Plymouth (5-0) got some gutsy performances by two particular underclassmen that left the Homecoming crowd with a sense of excitement for the Rockies in the near future. But it was â€śThe Driveâ€ť starting at the tail end of the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter that won the ballgame for the Rockies.
â€śYou almost NEVER see a 10 minute, 24 play drive like we saw tonight performed by our offense in High School football. I never have, not in 20 years here at Plymouth. That was amazing.â€ť, said the smiling Head Coach of the Plymouth Rockies, John Barron.
Back to the two underclassmen. Plymouth had a lack luster first half offensively with only 67 yards of total offense by halftime. One reason was the losses of Plymouth’s â€śone-two punchâ€ť of Seniors Brock Smith and Houston Hodges. Smith dislocated his left shoulder trying to make a tackle while Hodges received a high ankle sprain. It was decision time for Coach Barron on who was going to replace the Rockies heart and soul.
â€śIt was never a matter of not having confidence in who I was bringing in. I just felt sorry for Brock and Houston because they got hurt and had to leave the game. Sophomore Ike Kastner took reps all week long. Tonight was the night we were going to utilize him and put Houston in the backfield for a couple of plays. Well, when Houston got hurt we needed to find another fullback for our â€śTâ€ť offense and the other sophomore, Sam Stevens was next in line. It looked like both entries payed off! What tremendous performances by those two players. Again, its amazing!â€ť, said Barron.
Losing your two best players by halftime, on homecoming night, down by a touchdown, a touchdown called back on a â€śblock in the backâ€ť penalty, the feeling in the air was of uncertainty for the Plymouth faithful. Predominately this season, Plymouth has been a second half team, outscoring opponents by 49 points in their first four games. But Elkart Memorial was sensing the uneasy environment. They started the third quarter scoring on their first possession with an 11 play-54 yard drive in four minutes. It was a fade route pass from QB Dustin Mills into the corner of the end-zone to Todd Johnson, beating Chase Peters defensively, to make it 14-0 Memorial midway through the third quarter.
â€śThat last score, Memorial’s second touchdown was the difference maker for us. Damon Howe was walking off the field disgusted, so I told him to become the â€śdifference makerâ€ť, be leader of this football team now. Help turn this game around because we have plenty time get back into it. We just have to stop them!â€ť, said Barron.
That challenge was answered on both sides of the football. The very next play, Chase Peters got the Rockies to midfield on a nice kick return. There a 5 play-51 yard drive resulted in the Rockies first score when Peters rambled into the en-zone his first of three payday’s, making the score 14-7 Memorial.
â€śI was proud of Chase (Peters). He got beat on a flare pass he knows he should have had but then turns around and sets up our first score! That effort, that mentality help make the difference in the final outcome of this ballgame.â€ť, Barron said. â€śOur special teams really stepped up tonight. They continually gave us good field position almost the entire game when needed.â€ť, he said.
What made the Rockies first touchdown so memorable, was the fact that Senior Brock Smith returned to the field with a dislocated shoulder to kick the extra point.
â€śAll I know is when Brock hit the field for the PAT, I heard our fans roar! It was the most incredible thing I’ve been part of.â€ť he said.
Plymouth’s defense had to make one more big play. It was late in the third quarter, and a 4th and a long one, at the Memorial 45, had to be made by the Chargers. â€śMemorial is so athletic, they are made for short yardage situations because they have the players to get the first downs on man-on-man situations or have Mills simply dive forward. I’m glad they handed it off to their tailback as that allowed us adjust and hold the line long enough to make the huge stop. Aaron Wagers played it perfect.â€ť, said Barron.
That Rockies defensive stop led to Plymouth’s second touchdown by Peters which tied the game at 14-14. After Memorial went four and out, the drive of the season unfolded. The Rockies marched down field 64 yards on 20 plays, including three 4th down completions, to set up the third Stevens touchdown with just 13 seconds left in the ballgame.
â€śIt was the second 4th down completion that sophomore QB Ike Kastner ran the wrong way but still muscled his way for a 1st down. That was a great play by a great young competitorâ€ť, said Coach Barron.
Rockies remain undefeated on the season in five games, but this will be a game that probably will not be forgot about for seasons to come.
â€śI told the kids at halftime, we will not go down without a fight. You guys have a chance to make a Rockies history if you guys can come back. But we WILL NOT QUIT!â€ť, said Barron.
â€śWhen think of the pressure our two sophomores had on them tonight, and how wonderful they performed, what a great storyline. Then how Damon, Skyler (Evans) and the entire offensive line dominated the second half was incredible. Our how about when Houston in the first quarter literally stole a touchdown out of the hands of Paul Miller of Memorial on the three yard line. I love how our Free Safety, Mitch Holloway responded after making a horrible penalty that cost us a touchdown. He played very well!â€ť, said a jubilant Barron.
â€śI am so proud of how our kids never quit in this game. So proud.â€ť, said Barron.
Next Plymouth game on Friday night vs Wawasee. 6:20pm Pre-Game show. 7:30pm kickoff from the Rockpile.