Romano brings Indians home for playoffs
Constant defensive pressure from Tecumseh’s varsity football team wore out a frustrated Mason squad on Friday, Nov. 1, as the visiting Indians secured a 27-7 Division 3, playoff victory and earned the right to bring at least one more game home to their faithful fans.
After the game Romano spoke to the players and fans on the football field and thanked them for all of their support this year.
“We’re going home,” he added. “There is no better place in the world to defend our district championship.”
It was only the second time that the Indians weren’t competing on artificial turf while at Mason, and the grass field was wet and muddy.
“When you don’t have to worry about the shape of the field and what the rain’s done, the wear and tear, it’s a big advantage,” said Romano of playing at home in the playoffs. “It’s better than getting on a bus and driving an hour and a half.”
Once again the Indians’ opponents opened scoring however fans didn’t appear worried when cheering in a constant drizzle of rain being used to a slow start from their boys.
Romano didn’t crack a smile the entire evening until the final second ticked off the clock, knowing he had the win in hand but was not upset about being in the hole again early in the game. “I really felt confident at the end of the first quarter, being down seven to nothing. I just thought we would wear on them a little bit, especially the way our defense has been playing,” Romano explained. “The key to me was we were able to run the ball and they weren’t. Normally when that happens in a football game the team who can run it wins. And that’s the way it ended up.”
Mason’s Hunter Holbrook scored on a 70-yard touchdown pass in the opening quarter with Justin Scavarda flattening two Tecumseh defenders, allowing the receiver to break away and run all the way into the end zone.
A good point after touchdown (PAT) kick by Josh Flamme had the Bulldogs gnawing on a 7-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Tecumseh’s Preston Pelham and Nathan Brady gnawing Mason’s Jarrett VanHavel on the Bulldogs own five-yard line for good field position on their final possession of the first half. The Bulldogs booted the ball and Ben Vannatter returned it to Mason’s 45-yard line with 2:08 remaining in the quarter. The Indians drove the ball to the 18-yard line and took a time out on a third-down and three-yard situation. After returning to the field, Cowen threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jimmy Terry to set the score at 7-6 with 55.8 seconds left in the first half.
A good PAT kick from Luch Giovannone followed and the Indians went into halftime tied 7-7.
The Indians did what they have all season in the second half — picking up the pace and wearing out their opponents while putting more points on the board.
Cowen picked up a couple of first downs on quarterback keepers and sat the ball on Mason’s 19-yard line with 9:57 left in the third quarter. Mitch Meger rushed the ball to the Bulldogs two-yard line and Cowen completed the drive with a run into the end zone.
Giovannone centered the kick on the PAT and put the Indians up 14-7 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.
A solid tackle by Tecumseh’s Devin Moore denied Mason a first down on a third and 12-yard situation on the Indians 47-yard line and the Bulldogs punted the ball away on their final possession of the third quarter.
After receiving the ball and starting out on their own 27-yard line, Cowen broke away on another QB keeper and set the ball on Mason’s 35-yard line, and then again to Mason’s 14-yard-line just before the end of the third quarter. Just 17 seconds into the fourth and final quarter the Indians completed the scoring drive to the end zone with Meger rushing four yards for the touchdown.
Giovannone’s following PAT attempt went wide left but the Indians were up 20-7 with 11:13 remaining in the game.
Mason fumbled the ball on their following offensive drive and Tecumseh’s Stephen Bloxam recovered it and returned it to the Bulldogs’ 21-yard-line. Mason’s defense stiffened up and denied the Indians into the end zone on a fourth and four yard situation and took the ball over on downs on the 14-yard-line.
Mason punted on its next possession and the Indians fumbled a few plays later. Mason recovered the loose ball and an offensive foul call on Tecumseh set the Bulldogs on the Indians 7-yard-line. Not one inch of ground was given up by the Indians and Mason turned the ball over on downs after Jake Havelka sacked VanHavel on the 22-yard line (4:02).
Cowen once again broke free for big yardage on Tecumseh’s following offensive possession and ran the ball into the end zone all the way from the 50-yard-line.
Giovannone made good on the PAT and finished all scoring with 2:05 left in the game.
The Indians (8-2, 72.889 playoff points) face Eaton Rapids (6-4, 52.778) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, in the district championship.
“We’ve got to control the passing game,” said Romano of the Greyhounds. “They’ve got some good receivers, they’re a very fast team and throw it all over the place... It’s a good offensive team, they beat Charlotte twice in the same season and that’s very hard to do... I know they’ll bring a lot of people. It’s going to be rocking over here on Friday night.”