The Rockies could do little wrong in the first half taking a 27-3 lead into the locker room. The shoe was on the other foot in the second half as locker room adjustments had the Minutemen within one score with the football in their hands late in the game, not once, but twice.
“We told our team at halftime we couldn’t play any better than we did against the #3 ranked team in Class 5A,” said Plymouth head coach John Barron. “But I also told them they (Concord) are over in that other locker room and they have good coaches and good players I’m sure they are going to come out swinging. And they did.”
“I love being a part of this conference because you play against teams and coaches like this that coach so hard,” said Barron. “They (Concord) were so well prepared. Our kids were able to make plays at the end to cause some turnovers and that was big.”
The Rockie defense was inspired in the first half for a second straight week, using a stunting, pressure defense forcing Concord quarterback Ethan Cain to make snap decisions and holding the Minutemen to just 130 yards of offense.
“You had to put pressure on him, he is such an accurate passer,” said Barron of Cain. “Their offense looks a lot like ours when you snap the ball and they have four guys running down the field. They have fast guys, they have tall guys, they have guys that go over the top, they have possession receivers, they have guys who can get down the field and make plays. (Cain) is very accurate and I’m just glad we could put some stunts in that we could get some pressure on him.”
Nick Craft made Cain’s night a nightmare in the first half as a constant presence in the Minuteman backfield forcing him to get rid of the ball and escape pressure. Craft ended the night with six tackles but hurried Cain nearly every snap in the first half.
After the break, Concord found a way to pick up that pressure and just as the Plymouth coaching staff feared, the Minutemen did not go away.
Concord rebounded for 250 yards of offense in the second half and put up 20 unanswered points.
“I think their players played harder than we did in the second half,” said Barron. “We stalled out on drives there a couple of times but we were able to force them into field goals and that was key.”
Concord had to settle on field goals three times with the ball first and goal. Driving with just seven minutes to play in the game, Cain made a mistake and Seth Rundell made him pay, picking off a pass in the end zone to kill what could have been the lead score.
With just over three minutes Plymouth pressure put the game away when Daniel Bacon deflected a Cain pass and Isaac Navejar gathered it in. From there the Plymouth offense ran out the clock for the win.
“I think we played hard enough and well enough to win the game but let’s be honest some breaks went our way,” said Barron. “They dropped some passes and they didn’t execute in some critical situations. We blew some coverages on the back end when the kids couldn’t hear what we were calling — I have to do a better job of making sure we know what coverage we are in.”
“And thank goodness (Blake) Davis is back because he really makes a difference.”
“This is a team that at times this year we’ve played at the level of who we’re playing and thank goodness we started to play at the level Concord was playing at,” said Barron. “I think we thought we could just run the clock out and end the game in the second half. The problem was that those guys over there thought they were going to keep scoring and beat us.”
“It’s a sign of a really good head coach with a really good staff that coaches his players up to compete all the way until there is zeros on the clock and they did that.”
On the offense, Garrett Schrameyer erupted for six catches — two for touchdowns — and 113 yards, much of that on clutch receptions to keep Rockie drives alive late in the game.
Along with Rundell and Navejar, Davis celebrated his return to the lineup after injury with a pick of his own.
Plymouth moves to 6-1 on the year and gives themselves a leg up on the NLC race staying unbeaten at 4-0. Concord is also 5-1 and is now 3-1 in the NLC. Plymouth is at home again next week against Goshen with a 7 p.m. start.
•PLYMOUTH 27, CONCORD 23
Concord 3 0 10 10 — 23
Plymouth 7 20 0 0 — 27
Scoring Summary: 1st Quarter
09:48 PLYM — Seth Rundell 40 yd run (Adrian Cardona kick). 03:50 CONC — DeLaPaz 22 yd field goal. 2nd Quarter
11:14 PLYM — Jake Reichard 19 yd pass from Joe Barron (Adrian Cardona kick). 02:37 PLYM — Garr Schrameyer 25 yd pass from Joe Barron (Adrian Cardona kick failed).
01:09 PLYM — Garr Schrameyer 18 yd pass from Joe Barron (Adrian Cardona kick). 3rd Quarter
09:03 CONC — DeLaPaz 41 yd field goal. 02:46 CONC — Cain 4 yd run (DeLaPaz kick). 4th Quarter
09:59 CONC — Moore 24 yd pass from Cain (DeLaPaz kick). 07:00 CONC — DeLaPaz 22 yd field goal. RUSHING: Concord — Rice 5-29, Moon 4-29, Cain 12-24, Neveraski 4-16. Plymouth — Ivan Winkle 15-42, Seth Rundell 1-40, Blake Davis 3-26, Joe Barron 8-minus 7. PASSING: Concord — Cain 25-49-3-286, Neveraski 0-1-0-0. Plymouth — Joe Barron 14-29-0-199. RECEIVING: Concord-D’Arcy 8-52, Moore 6-84, Neveraski 4-34, Taylor 2-66, Eakins 2-37, Wittmer 2-10, Moon 1-3. Plymouth — Garr Schrameyer 6-113, Ivan Winkle 3-10, Joe Styers 2-45, Seth Rundell 2-12, Jake Reichard 1-19. INTERCEPTIONS: Concord — None. Plymouth — Blake Davis 1-1, Isaac Navejar 1-0, Seth Rundell 1-0. FUMBLES: Concord-None. Plymouth-Blake Davis 1-1, Joe Barron 1-1. SACKS (UA-A): Concord — Barton 2-1, Koltookian 0-1. Plymouth — Isaac Navejar 0-1, Diego Garcia 1-0, Joe Styers 0-1. TACKLES (UA-A): Concord — Barton 5-3, Koltookian 4-4, Neveraski 5-1. Plymouth — Seth Rundell 9-5, Nicholas Craft 5-6, Daniel Bacon 2-10, Ivan Winkle 5-2.