JOHNSTOWN — In marching out to a 7-0 record this season, the Erie football team has limited mistakes while taking a whole lot of advantage of the gaffs others have committed.
Against Roosevelt on Friday night in a heavy-hitting Tri-Valley League contest, however, the Roughriders were able to reverse those roles in a 22-20 victory at RHS.
Erie could not capitalize on an early Roosevelt turnover on the game's opening possession, and the tight score was such that a Noah Craig 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter off of an Erie fumble stood as the game-winner for Roosevelt, putting both teams at 2-1 in the TVL.
Noah Roper scored two total touchdowns and Zach Rees caught a TD pass for a score, but a third possible Roper TD from 52 yards out in the fourth quarter was wiped off the map by a holding call and Erie could not get the momentum it needed to overtake the hosts on senior night.
"Little mistakes become big mistakes against good teams, and they have a very good defensive line and linebacking crew," said Erie head coach Chad Cooper, whose squad will get right back on the horse next week against undefeated and No. 1 Mead. "We'll be a better team next week."
A stout Roosevelt defense clearly keyed on stopping Roper, who came into Friday with well over 1,300 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. While he did get in the end zone when he sniffed the chance, the Roughriders were in hot pursuit most of the game and limited Roper to 85 yards on 20 carries.
Meanwhile for Roosevelt, senior Angelo Hurtado was busy making plays and the Erie defense allowed some big pass plays with the mobile Trent Beall effective outside the pocket. Beall, who also had a 52-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and ran for 112 yards overall, had three pass plays of more than 33 yards in the game — and two of those kept scoring drives going.
On the drive eventually capped by Craig, Hurtado caught a 33-yard pass on third down into EHS territory. A 37-yard catch by DeAunte Hunt late in the second quarter was a significant play in helping RHS capture the lead for good at 15-14, as Roosevelt scored a go-ahead TD with just 1:04 left on the second quarter clock.
Erie got the ball to start the third quarter and Roper had three of his biggest carries of the night to get the Tigers into Roosevelt territory. But after Rees made a catch down to the RHS 23, the ball popped out on him and Roosevelt took over.
Nine plays later, Craig bulldozed into the end zone and with 4:23 left in the third RHS had taken a 22-14 lead.
"We missed some assignments in some spots, and other times it was just kids making plays for them," Cooper said.
Roper returned the kickoff back to the Roosevelt 11 and the senior was able to plunge in from 1 yard out to make it 22-20, but a two-point pass failed.
The remainder of the game saw the Erie defense step up twice and stop Roosevelt from adding points from within the Tiger 20-yard line, leaving the holding call on Roper's fourth quarter run looming large in the outcome.
"We don't have any excuses and we're not going to use any excuses," Cooper said. "We didn't play well enough to win. Roosevelt is a very good football team and when you make the mistakes we did and let them capitalize, it's a testament to their kids making plays.
"We're going to have some other guys step forward a little more and I think that's going to happen."
Roosevelt 22, Erie 20
At Roosevelt HSErie (7-1, 2-1)01460—20
Roosevelt (6-2, 2-1)8770—22
Roosevelt — Trent Beall 52 run (Angelo Hurtado run).
Erie — Zach Rees 10 pass from Jacob Mansdorfer (Julian Custine kick). Erie — Noah Roper 55 fumble return. Roosevelt — DeAunte Hunt 5 pass from Beall (David Zahn kick).
Roosevelt — Noah Craig 14 run (Zahn kick). Erie — Roper 1 run (pass failed).
RUSHING — Erie: Noah Roper 20-85, Dion Lucero 5-16, Mansdorfer 4-8, Colby Wingfield 1-0, Julian Custine 1-(minus-3).
PASSING — Erie: Mansdorfer 3-4-0-32, Lucero 5-9-1-49.
RECEIVING — Erie: Isaac Khanna 3-52, Zach Rees 3-37, Alex Mathis 1-13, Roper 1-(minus-3)