Oak Creek The Soroco Rams football team was in a good position to win its first league game being down 6-0 at halftime to the Paonia Eagles, but an inability to maintain defense and set a consistent offensive series dashed the players' hopes.
Soroco walked away scoreless Friday at home, 19-0.
The Rams defense has talent, with juniors C.J. Remick and William Ford, among others, who show they can play aggressive football at the varsity level. The defense held the Eagles to 31 yards for rushing in the first half. But the team couldn't cover the pass, especially a pesky textbook screenplay.
The Eagles set themselves up for the first score at the end of the first quarter with a 48-yard pass play from quarterback Joe Brooks to Levi Heinritz. It dropped them into the red zone, which led to a 4-yard plunge by Tyree Abshire.
The defense stayed strong for the rest of the half, but the Rams offense couldn't get the wind in its sails. Though starting with the ball at midfield most of the first half, the team couldn't move on the Eagles' defense all game. The Rams could produce only 39 yards of rushing and 67 yards of passing all night.
But Rams coach Gary Heide said being down by six points at halftime was one of the best positions the team has been in all year, and that even without the offensive production, the players were doing OK.
At the start of the second half, the Eagles cracked the defensive by constructing a 14-play, 85-yard drive to score a touchdown, making the game 12-0 after the missed 2-point try.
The Eagles almost added insult to injury by recovering a surprised onside kick after the score. But the Rams halted the Eagle offensive to three and out after the recovery.
Paonia scored again in the beginning of the fourth quarter after Brooks scrambled for 31 yards to Soroco's 21-yard line in the closing seconds of the third period.
A few plays later, Brooks threw a screen pass to Patrick Simons, a play that killed the defense all night, which brought the ball into the red zone. The two hooked up for 92 yards from seven passes all night, most of which were the screenplay.
John Laiminger eventually took a handoff in for the score. With the extra point, the score was 19-0 with 10 minutes left to play, essentially making the game out of reach.
"I think in the progression of the year, this was a good game for us," Heide said. "We were in the game the whole way."
The loss put the Rams at 1-5 and 0-4 in league play, while the Eagles bettered themselves to 4-2 and 3-1 in the league.
Remick was frustrated after the game but was proud of his team.
"We played hard and we played with a lot of heart," he said.