By Brandon judeh
When Lowellville’s high-powered offense was shut down last week in a loss to Springfield, Rockets head coach Jeff D’Altorio knew it wouldn’t be long before it was back.
D’Altorio was right. Lowellville outlasted Mineral Ridge, 34-31, on Friday night.
“The offense is back,” D’Altorio said. “Mineral Ridge had a tough time adjusting to what we did and our kids did a great job running the ball.”
Rockets quarterback Alex Harklerode paced Lowellville (3-1, 1-1 Inter Tri-County) with 128 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
“This was a big win for us,” Harklerode said. “We were able to bounce back from last week’s loss against Springfield and put some points on the board.
“The offensive line did a great job tonight and so did the receivers and running backs.”
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining and the Rockets clinging to a 27-24 lead, junior defensive back Van Vanover picked off a Jonathan Baker pass to give the ball back to Lowellville.
Four plays later Harklerode scored from 14 yards out to put the game away.
“That interception was huge for us, but earlier in the second half we gave them the ball back on a fumble and gave them life,” D’Altorio said. “Fortunately that interception gave us the momentum back.”
Said Mineral Ridge head coach Doug Velasquez:
“That play was just a miscommunication, we had our wide receiver break off the route and we weren’t able to connect.”
Harklerode also had touchdown runs of 7 and 1 yards and scored on a beautifully played 26-yard keeper early in the second quarter.
“It feels good to get off to such a great start to the season,” Harklerode said. “All of the hard work we put in during practice is really paying off.”
The Rockets’ Phil Ginnis who rushed for 104 yards and Jesse Terwilliger added a touchdown.
Mineral Ridge (3-1, 1-1) also moved the ball well.
The combination of Baker to Corey Phillips was successful all night as the two hooked up on five passes for 166 yards and two scores.
The biggest play cane in the second quarter when Baker found Phillips on a streak down the middle for a 62-yard touchdown.
“They have a good connection with one another and that is definitely our go-to combination,” Velasquez said. “We still needed to run the ball a little more and eat some clock, because Lowellville has a great offense.”
Baker finished with 214 passing yards for the Rams and running back Michael Eaton rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns.