ERIE — Erie running back Noah Roper had a tough time finding open field against Frederick on Friday night.
For all of four carries.
Swarmed and stacked up, last season's state rushing champion was held to two yards over the Tigers' opening two possessions. But Roper —broken nose and all — returned to vintage form with an 80-yard touchdown on carry No. 5 and Erie shelled rival-Frederick 43-16 to win its fifth-straight Miners Trophy.
Roper finished with three scores on the ground, a passing touchdown, and 180 rushing yards. Quarterback Gavin Mendoza had 112 yards through the air and tossed scores to Ian McDonald and Kaleb Fuhrmann as the Tigers bounced back from a shaky opening drive to score on six of their next seven drives.
"All of our guys stepped up tonight," said Roper, who played with a broken nose he suffered against Pueblo South last week.
Erie entered the week as the No. 1-ranked 3A team in the CHSAANow.com poll, while the Warriors were the first team outside the top 10.
The 34th meeting, though, descended from a game of intrigue to a blowout. In a series dominated by the Tigers, who have a 24-10 record against the Warriors, things quickly followed suit.
Roper's 6-yard score with 7:28 left in the third put Erie up 43-3. By the state's mercy rule, the 40-point margin put into effect a running clock the rest of the way.
"I don't want to say we expected (a blowout) tonight," Erie coach Chad Cooper said. "Frederick has a good coaching staff, good kids and a has a good program, but if we execute and do things the right way we can put ourselves in a good position to win."
Outside the first series, execute the Tigers did.
Mendoza, who entered the game with only 58 yards through the air, went 3-for-5 passing and had just three carries. He did much with little.
On the Tigers' second possession, Mendoza had a 44-yard run and threw a 21-yard score to McDonald to give Erie a 7-3 lead. Later, the junior quarterback showed off his arm, hitting Fuhrmann in stride for an 84-yard touchdown.
"Obviously teams are going to go straight at Noah — I mean, he's one of the best backs in the state," Mendoza said. "But we're a team. We back each other, and if Noah isn't having a good night to start then we'll all back him and get him there."
Roper found his groove on his offense's third drive. The senior ditched the helmet visor that was protecting his broken nose after the second series and had his second 80-yard touchdown of the season on the following carry.
The visor-free view was even better with blockers out in front.
"It was more so our line," Roper cracked. "On that run, it was perfect blocking."
Late in the half, Roper added his first passing TD of the season with a 23-yard toss to Isaac Khanna to make it 36-3.
"The momentum switch was with big plays," Frederick coach Travis Peeples said. "They had a long run, a long pass, a big play. They had a great offense, great players — and we didn't do our jobs and they capitalized on it. I thought we fought hard and gave it everything we had, but tonight they were the better team."
In the early minutes, Frederick defensive end Logan Robinson picked off Mendoza to set up a 35-yard field goal by Luke Dunker.
Erie scored the next 43 points.
Brent W. New: , firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @brentwnew
Erie 43, Frederick 16
At Erie HSFrederick (1-0)3076—16Erie (2-0)132370—43
Frederick — Luke Dunker 35 field goal. Erie — Ian McDonald 21 pass from Gavin Mendoza (Julian Custine kick). Erie — Noah Roper 80 run (kick no good).
Erie — Isaac Khanna safety Erie — Roper 8 run (Custine kick). Erie — Kaleb Fuhrmann 84 pass from Mendoza (Custine kick). Erie — I. Khanna 23 pass from Roper (Custine kick).
Erie — Roper 6 run (Custine kick). Frederick — Brandon Hornby 14 run (Dunker kick).
Frederick — Dante Ciaravola 17 pass from Jake Green (2-point conversion no good)
RUSHING — Frederick: Ciaravola 6-20, Green 5-19, Trey Odell 4-26, Hornby 3-57, Sean Holbrook 3-12, Dominik Schleif 1-6. Erie: Roper 20-183, Tyler Gardner 6-34, Mendoza 3-51, Cameron Crooks 2-0, Will Khanna 3-(minus-4).
PASSING — Frederick: Green 5-15-1-85. Erie: Mendoza 3-5-2-112, Roper 1-1-1-23, W. Khanna 1-1-0-33
RECEIVING — Frederick: Dylan Sindelar 2-53, Ciaravola 1-17, Odell 1-9, Gavin Self 1-6. Erie: Fuhrmnn 2-117, I. Khanna 1-23, McDonald 1-21, Benji Havener 1-7.