CINCINNATI — The problem with scoreboards is they cannot always tell the full story.
When the clock at Cincinnati McNicholas High School’s Penn Station Stadium flipped to all zeroes Sept. 30, the scoreboard showed that the McNicholas football team beat Carroll, 28-0.
But down 21-0 at halftime, Carroll (1-5, 0-3 Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North) played an inspired second half, in which it gave up just a single touchdown to McNicholas (5-1, 3-0 GCL South), which was playing its starters deep into the fourth quarter.
“This is bigger than football,” said Coach Ben Rulli. “This is a great group of kids that come out and work hard every day. We’re going to continue to coach them up, and they’re going to continue to get after it. We challenged them at halftime and I think you saw that switch on a little bit. It’s going to click.”
Carroll’s best opportunity for its first points since Sept. 8 at Sidney came during the last half of the third period and into the fourth. With 6:20 remaining in the third, the Rockets went up 28-0 when quarterback Cole Burdick hit Jackson Gear for a five-yard touchdown.
Possibly showing its inexperience, Carroll was flagged for running into the kicker on the ensuing PAT, setting up a kickoff that went for a touchback.
“This is a super young team,” said Rulli. “You can’t use that as an excuse six weeks into a season, but we are super young going up against guys that are way older in a lot of cases.”
What followed was a 14-play drive that chewed up 6:37 of game clock and covered 65-yards that eventually stalled with a blocked field goal.
On the drive, sophomore QB Trent Fox completed two of four passes (11-of-20 for 127 yards overall) with one beating an edge blitz for 15-yards to Evan Howard.
Running backs Frederick Butts (12 carries, 62 yards) and Howard (10 carries, 49 yards) took it from there, bulling forward for 40 total yards.
“Every opportunity to learn, we have to take it,” Butts said. “It wasn’t just about me. The whole team clicked and when that happens it can be a dangerous thing. It’s going to happen.”
McNicholas started its scoring on the opening drive when Jacob Reuss rumbled in for 10 yards just under four minutes into the game.
After forcing a turnover on downs with 8:36 left in the first half, it took the Rockets one play — a 61-yard pass — to go up 14-0. The Rockets extended their lead to 21-0 two minutes later on a five-yard run by Ryan Belmont.
It was a third straight shutout defeat for the Patriots and a fifth consecutive loss overall. Caroll hosts Badin on Friday, Oct. 6.
Steve Freeze is a freelance writer for Greene County News.