Mistakes and fatigue caught up with the area's newest football team.
CAMPBELL -- It was a rare day at John Knapick Field Saturday, as the largest cheers of the game were for a guy from rival Struthers High School.
But, despite 128 rushing yards rushing from former Wildcat David Sepses Jr., the area's newest entry into professional football lost its opening game. Mistakes and bad judgment were costly as the Ohio Red Bulls fell 7-6 to the Penn-Ohio Raiders of Sharon, Pa.
Sepesy, a 1998 Struthers graduate and now a painter, carried the ball 16 times and several times put his team in scoring position, but each time the Red Bulls shot themselves in the foot.
"We have too much talent to just put up six points," said Sepesy. "But this is a 10-game schedule and things aren't over because of one game. Tonight we just wasted too many opportunities."
Trailing 7-6 with 7:59 remaining in the game, the Red Bulls began on their 35 and Sepesy needed just three carries to get the ball into Penn-Ohio territory. On a third and 5 from the 43, quarterback Steve Richardson used a nifty run and a penalty to advance the ball to the 28. Sepesy came up big again, this time for 13 yards, and soon the Red Bulls had a first and goal at the 5.
From there, an ill-advised pitch out from Richardson resulted in a fumble and turnover.
"Our quarterback just made some bad choices," said owner-coach Will Smith. "Some very bad choices. Plus as the game went on the players started getting tired."
Despite the mistakes, the Red Bulls had another chance, getting the ball back on the Penn-Ohio 35 with 1:47 to go. The Red Bulls used three quarterbacks, including another Struthers graduate, Matt McClure. But three straight sacks and an incomplete pass ended the possession.
Following an interception from Michael Witherow, the Red Bulls began their first drive with great success. A 10-play march, mixed nicely with four passes and six runs, covered 71 yards and lasted 7:02 as the Red Bulls went ahead 6-0 with 44 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Jason Salmon, who earlier in the drive hauled in a pass for 28 yards scored the touchdown on a 13-yard reception from Richardson. The PAT kick was blocked.
Penn-Ohio scored the tying points with 1:54 remaining before the intermission; quarterback John Reay lofted a 15-yard strike to Melvin Gregory who pulled the ball down between two defenders.
Steve Moser's kick broke the tie.
Numerous other scoring chances were wasted, including one that was set up when Ray Betts recovered a fumble to give the Red Bulls a first down at the Penn-Ohio 26. Four plays, though, resulted in a loss of downs.
"It was fun to play again but we made too many mistakes," said inside linebacker Steve Procik, a 2000 graduate of Struthers High. "We need more preparation and we have to be in better shape."
Sepesy was pleased with the cheers and when asked if it may have been the largest cheer ever in Campbell for a player from Struthers, he joked, "Yeah. I'll give you that."