Rochester Hills — Despite falling behind by two touchdowns and turning the ball over on downs three times, Rochester Adams found the will to come back to beat Romeo, 26-17, in a Division 1 pre-district playoff matchup on Friday night.
Adams’ defense forced two Romeo fumbles in the third quarter, capitalizing the second time around to take a 20-14 lead on a Stephen Roncelli 18-yard touchdown run.
It was a lead Adams would never relinquish.
“I’ve never seen a defense as aggressive as that,” Romeo co-head coach Jason Couch said. “We caught them early, but they’re very fast and were able to adjust to what we were doing.”
The turning point came with Adams trailing 14-7 and facing a third-and-12 from its own 7-yard line. That’s when quarterback Zach Soldan hit Cole Patritto for a 73-yard gain that set up a Chase Kareta touchdown that tied the game at 14.
“We needed a spark,” Soldan said. “That turned the momentum for the whole game.”
Romeo was able to cut into its deficit with a 33-yard field goal from Dominic Nikprelevic, but it was the trio of Soldan, Roncelli (16 carries, 69 yards) and Kareta that was able to put the game away.
Adams (9-1) got the ball back with 10 minutes, 56 seconds remaining. They were able to orchestrate a 12-play, 71-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock and ended with Kareta’s second 1-yard touchdown of the night.
“That’s just what we do,” Adams coach Tony Patritto said. “We’ve been up against great competition all year. You’ve got to make plays to beat teams like that.”
Soldan led Adams in rushing with 111 yards on 18 carries, while finishing 5-for-8 through the air for 110 yards and a touchdown.
When it was all said and done, Adams outgained Romeo 248-118 on the ground.
Romeo (7-3) got off to a fast start in the first quarter. It forced Adams to turn the ball over on downs on its first two offensive possessions, setting up a pair of scores to stake itself a 14-0 lead.
Nathan Goralski set up the opening touchdown with two big plays, reeling in a 30-yard reception and breaking off a 10-yard run to set up a 6-yard score by Malik Jones (15 carries, 91 yards).
Bailey Kamego made it 14-0 with a 12-yard touchdown on an end around that polished off a seven-play, 44-yard drive midway through the second quarter.
Adams was able to answer when Soldan hit Cole Patritto for an 11-yard score on third down, cutting the Romeo lead to 14-7 with just under two minutes remaining in the first half.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.