It was an offensive shootout for a while, but Ross High School’s football team simply couldn’t keep up with Harrison on Friday night.
Quarterback Connor Kinnett had a hand in five touchdowns and 366 yards of offense as the visiting Wildcats finished with 35 straight points in a 49-14 triumph at Robinson Field.
Harrison didn’t seem fazed by the fact that it had been outscored 84-20 by East Central (Ind.) and Anderson in Weeks 2 and 3.
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“The last two weeks went bad, but they were against good opponents,” Kinnett said. “We came in here with a lot of confidence and big expectations for tonight. We think every year we’re going to win this game.”
Kinnett was the triggerman for the Wildcats’ big-play offense. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior completed 10-of-13 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns while running eight times for 94 yards and a score. He also had a TD pass negated by a holding penalty.
Harrison (2-2) piled up 485 yards of offense and averaged nearly 12 yards per carry.
“We saw some things on film that we liked,” Kinnett said. “We kind of attacked what we thought we had, and it worked out tonight. We did well up front. The receivers beat their DBs and got open, and that made the throws easy for me.”
It was the Southwest Ohio Conference opener for both squads. The Wildcats have been runners-up the last five years and have never won the SWOC title, but they have a huge home game against two-time defending champion Edgewood next Friday.
The Rams (2-2) are trending upward as a program after going 3-17 the last two seasons, but they don’t figure to be in the SWOC championship chase in 2018.
Ross did produce 307 rushing yards with its triple-option offense, led by Dylan Caldwell (27 carries, 118 yards), Ethan Hall (six carries, 62 yards) and quarterback C.J. Boze (21 carries, 57 yards). Caldwell and Boze had the Rams’ touchdowns.
“The SWOC title and all that stuff, those things will come in due time,” Ross coach Kenyon Commins said. “We’re a 2-2 football team, and there’s six weeks of football left. What they do with that is completely up to them. If we get better every day, we’re going to be OK. That’s how we’re going to define our success.”
The game was knotted at 14-14 in the first 13 minutes, with Harrison’s first two touchdowns coming in its first four plays from scrimmage.
That tie got broken when Kinnett hit Levi Tidwell with a pair of touchdown passes in a span of less than two minutes in the second period (with 4:24 and 2:28 remaining). The score was 28-14 at halftime, and the Wildcats tacked on three fourth-quarter TDs.
“We know we’re going to have to score some points,” Harrison coach Derek Rehage said. “We are little on defense and we are little up front, and we lost another lineman (Sam Stroud) tonight. We’ve lost three offensive linemen so far this year.
“I expected a dogfight against Ross. They run the ball hard. They’re young in their skill guys, but their offensive line is good. They run that scheme a lot better than a year ago. We made some adjustments defensively midway through the second quarter and changed our front a little bit, which helped.”
C.J. Young and Brett Reinstatler were also on the receiving end of Kinnett touchdown throws, and Cam Hering added a pair of TDs on the ground.
“When he’s on, he’s on,” Rehage said of Kinnett, who’s already cracked the 1,000-yard mark and leads the SWOC in passing. “He likes playing fast. Our biggest thing is keeping him upright. We want to get the ball out of his hands fast, don’t let the defensive pressure get to him and be smart when we take our shots with him because he does have a very strong arm. And he’s also an above-average runner.”
Linebacker Simon Shirley came up with an interception and a fumble recovery for the Wildcats. Sean Lange recovered a fumble for the Rams.
“Offensively, I think we were fine. But we’re not built to play keep-up with a team that’s scoring every two plays,” Commins said. “We didn’t tackle well enough and had too many mental breakdowns, but while I say that, I think a lot of credit has to be given to Harrison’s young men. They made plays all night. Coach Rehage and his staff did a really good job of picking what they wanted to do with us.”
Ross will travel to Mount Healthy next Friday.
H: Connor Kinnett 4 run (Kyle Farfsing kick)
R: Dylan Caldwell 3 run (L.J. Neumaier kick)
H: C.J. Young 60 pass from Kinnett (Farfsing kick)
R: C.J. Boze 19 run (Neumaier kick)
H: Levi Tidwell 45 pass from Kinnett (Farfsing kick)
H: Tidwell 38 pass from Kinnett (Farfsing kick)
H: Brett Reinstatler 54 pass from Kinnett (Farfsing kick)
H: Cam Hering 11 run (Farfsing kick)
H: Hering 16 run (Farfsing kick)