AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge
Defense dominated a soggy contest with little flow as Rogers forced Anthony Wayne into mistake after mistake to take a high school football season opener last night.
The game was interrupted by over an hour and a half worth of delays due to thunderstorms that rolled through the area. But the home-standing Rams responded by forcing six turnovers and walked away with a 15-8 victory over the Generals.
"Our defense won the game. They came up big," Rogers coach Rick Rios said. "We couldn't do some things on offense. I have to hand it to our defense."
Despite fumbling the ball four times and throwing two interceptions, AW had the ball in Ram territory trailing by just seven points with 7:10 remaining.
But Rogers senior back Isaiah Ballard, who returned an interception 70 yards for a score in the third quarter, came up with a key sack and put it away with three solid runs to kill the clock.
"I just made a few big plays when we needed them," said Ballard, who also rushed for 36 yards and caught three passes for 17 yards.
The start of the game was delayed about 40 minutes due to a tornado warning. A steady rain fell throughout the first quarter and a half. A lightning delay was called with 7:14 to go in the second quarter with the game scoreless.
AW turned the ball over four times in the first half alone and had jus two first downs.
"You're not going to win against anyone, period, if you turn the ball over six times," Anthony Wayne coach Craig Smith said. "We were fortunate to be in it at the end."
The second weather delay lasted 57 minutes. Three plays after the game resumed, Rogers senior running back Sylvester Scere scored on an 18-yard scamper.
"After that break, we came out on fire," Rios said.
The Rams added two points on a run by Ballard to make it 8-0 with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
"We just stayed amped," Ballard said. "I called the players over and I told them we needed to make plays."
With the Generals at the Rogers 35 early in the third quarter, QB Hank Taylor threw an interception right to Ballard, and he sprinted up the sideline, untouched for a touchdown to make it 15-0.
Minutes later, it looked like the Generals were going to get on the board thanks to several nice runs by David Birsen. But just as Birsen was about to go in for a score, he fumbled near the goal line and Rogers' Craig Short recovered.
Anthony Wayne finally broke through when senior Nate Sherman scored on a 19-yard scamper up the middle. He also converted a run for two points to make it 15-8 with 9:20 remaining. Sherman led all rushers with 65 yards on 14 carries.
"Our defense played lights out and we hung in there," Smith said. "The kids never quit."
AW then quickly stopped the Rams and mounted an eight play drive into Rogers territory when Ballard and DeMarcus Horton sacked Taylor to essentially end the threat.
"Isaiah makes plays most kids can't make," Rios said. "He did everything for us in the fourth quarter."
Rogers finished with 112 yards on the ground and 28 through the air. Ram sophomore QB E.J. Tucker rushed for 36 yards.
Anthony Wayne posted 179 total yards, including 115 on the ground. Taylor was 4 of 8 for 64 yards.
"We just didn't have the continuity," Smith said. "We shot ourselves in the foot too many times. There was no flow to the game. It was hard to come back out after just sitting there for 45 minutes. But there are no excuses."
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