Saturday, September 09, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Blasts of brightness in loss to Rockets

Leader staff writer

Catholic Rockets’ running back Samy Johnson had more than 100 yards rushing after just three runs as he led the Rockets to a 34-17 victory over the Jacksonville Titans in a non-conference game at Jacksonville.

Even though the Rockets dominated the ground and air attacks, there were still bright spots for the Titans including a monster run by quarterback Harderrious Martin, workhorse running back Shawn Ellis gaining more than 100 yards for the night., along with some strong tackles and two defensive interceptions.

But it was Catholic that hit the first three scores of the night in the first quarter and controlled the tempo most of the game after that.

The Rockets struck on their first possession with Chris Elser hitting a field goal from the 20-yard line.

Next Rocket possession, Johnson long-legged it for a 49-yard touchdown and Elser tacked on the extra point.

Third possession, it was Johnson again on a 30-yard scamper and with the extra point it was 17-0.

The Titans had a chance on the ensuing kickoff that went out of bounds, giving them the ball on the 35-yard line, their best field position of the quarter. Jacksonville, behind the legs of Ellis, moved it to the 47-yard line, before a sack and a tackle for a loss stop the momentum.

But right before the end of the first quarter Kevin Fulton intercepted a Catholic pass at the Titan 47-yard line. But in a strange call, the officials ruled pass interference on the Titans, moved the ball to the 37-yard line and let Jacksonville keep the ball. No one on the home side seemed to be upset, but the coaches all had hands up in the air wondering about the call.

It was one of a number of questionable calls in the game by officials including spotting the ball five-yards farther forward from where the Titans had stopped Johnson, and spotting the ball five yards back on a Titan gain.

Ellis and the Titans used ball control and solid runs to get down to the 17-yard line. On a second-and-four, quarterback Martin used some misdirection to freeze the Catholic defense and scampered in for a touchdown and a 17-7 Catholic lead.

Jacksonville defense then got in the act again and stopped the Rockets’ top running back Johnson on a fourth-and-two.

After taking over on downs, Martin legged it out for 12 yards, but a penalty marched it back 10. Two plays later, Ellis had a strong run of 39 yards. But a false start and a quarterback sack made it fourth-and-16, forcing a punt.

With a little over a minute to go, Titans got the ball back at the Rockets’ 29-yard line.

A sure touchdown pass sailed through the outreached hands of Zach McDaniel, but then Ellis rambled down to the 13-yard line, taking a number of Rockets with him. But the drive stalled with the Titans settling for a field goal, making it a tight 17-10 ballgame at the half.

But in the second half, the Rockets ran a faster offense leading to a touchdown early in the third quarter, followed by another one their next possession.

The Titans’ play of the game came with 42 seconds left in the third quarter as Martin, looking to pass, scrambled about 30-yards side to side in the backfield, before tucking the ball and taking off for a 40-yard touchdown run.

Late in the fourth quarter that same scrambling mentality turned into a 17-yard loss.

The final score came with just under six minutes to go as the Rockets kicked a field goal, making it 34-17.

The Titans are now 1-1 and will face Sylvan Hills in an away game next Friday.