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Vince Pizzo has it right. Roosevelt is number one after defeating Oak Park in the Division 2, Region 4 Championship on Friday in Wyandotte.
PLAYOFF FOOTBALL: Late TD, brilliant redzone D lead Bears to regional title (PHOTO & VIDEO)
Brandon Sowards celebrates after hauling in a game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Matejko. Sowards made the grab in the back of the endzone to give the Bears a 10-6 lead with 1:31 remaining.
Roosevelt hoists its second-ever regional championship. The last time the Bears reached the state semifinals was in 2002.
Roosevelt's Austin Petravicius makes a big hit on Oak Park's George Williams. Petravicius also had an interception in the win.
Defense wins championships.
The cliché of all football clichés proved true in Wyandotte Friday night as Roosevelt delivered a late red-zone stop to secure the Division 2, Region 4 Championship in a 10-6 win over Oak Park.
“We’re fired up about it because only happened once in the history of this school,” said Adams, whose Bears one their only other regional championship in 2001.
The Roosevelt defense bent at times, but the Bears were tougher than tungsten in the redzone and held the Knights without a score inside the Roosevelt 5 yard line on three separate occasions.
“We had the setback earlier in the season and sometimes, I hate to say it, when you fail, it’s a good thing,” said Adams, referring to Roosevelt’s 64-36 loss to Woodhaven on Sept. 28. “It was a wake-up call. We’ve been playing very, very well defensively since that point in time.”
“Jason Carpenter and our defensive staff, they deserve a lot of credit. Our players deserve a lot of credit for executing the game plan and it gives us an opportunity to continue this journey to win a state championship.”
Roosevelt took its first and only lead of the night late in the fourth quarter when Kevin Matejko found Brandon Sowards with a 31-yard touchdown pass with 1:31 remaining to give the Bears a 10-6 advantage.
Oak Park’s final drive of the season was an exciting one as a 40-yard pass from Nate Simms to Joshua Friday highlighted a late 72-yard march into the Bears’ redzone.
On fourth-and-goal from the Roosevelt 5 with 18 seconds remaining, Mario Morris threw an incompletion and the Knights fell just short in the comeback effort.
“We gave ourselves a chance even after being down and having to go 75 yards,” Oak Park Coach Greg Carter said. “We had a chance on our last two or three downs and we just couldn’t put it in. It was the story of our evening that we just couldn’t score a touchdown when we needed one.”
The Knights opened the game with an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by Malik Washington five minutes into the first quarter.
Oak Park had a chance to add to its lead the next time the Knights got the ball when a 55-yard scamper by John Kelly gave the visitors a first-and-goal from the Roosevelt 5.
The Bears held their ground and forced a turnover-on-downs when Roosevelt’s Devan Stewart’s diving effort broke up a Dellontae Johnson fourth-down pass.
Roosevelt’s first three drives resulted in one first down and three punts, but the Bears strung together a nine-play drive the resulted in a 33-yard Jacob Simpson field goal with four minutes remaining in the first half for a 6-3 score entering the break.
Oak Park forced a turnover-on-downs on Roosevelt’s opening drive of the second half and methodically moved the ball down, once again, to the Roosevelt 5 yard line.
A busted running play and a sack by Andrew Noles pushed the Knights back to the 25 and two incompletions later, the Bears had avoided disaster.
The Bears went three-and-out on their next possession, but Oak Park fumbled three plays into the ensuing drive to give Roosevelt the ball back with seven minutes remaining.
Roosevelt chewed up the next six minutes before Matejko hooked up with Sowards for the game-winning score.
“They’ve got a really good offense, they’ve got multiple sets, they’ve got a lot of really good players,” Carter said. “I think we held our own defensively, but you know, they didn’t make any mistakes defensively and we made one. That’s what it really comes down to.”
Oak Park outgained Roosevelt 300 to 168 in the game, but Roosevelt won the turnover battle 2-0.
Kyle Matejko led the Bears with 48 yards on 11 carries.
Brandon Sowards hauled in two passes for 45 yards and Austin Petravicius had an interception at the end of the first half for the Bears.
Washington led all rushers with 85 yards on 16 carries and Kelly added nine rushes for 62 yards.
Brian Williams had four catches for 68 yards and Friday caught two balls for 50 yards.
Simms, Johnson and Morris combined to go 7-for-24 for 144 yards and one interception.
“If you only score six points on the road, you’re not going to win the game,” Oak Park Coach Greg Carter said. “Especially with the great kicking game that they have and their quarterback, pretty soon they’re going to make us pay.”
Aside from the hardware and the spot in the final four, Adams also views the win as validation for the talent in the Downriver League.
“The argument’s always been ‘well, we don’t know how good they are because they haven’t played anybody outside of the league,’” Adams said. “I don’t know if this eliminates that problem, that perception, but I don’t really care because right now, all I know is that we’re going to the semifinals and that’s all that matters.”
Roosevelt (11-1) will play Birmingham Brother Rice in the Division 2 state semifinals.
“We’re looking forward to next week,” Adams said. “We’re obviously happy now, but we’re not satisfied. We want to keep going.”
Roosevelt 0 3 0 7 – 10
Oak Park 6 0 0 0 – 6
Friday’s Division 2, Region 4 Championship at Roosevelt
Rushes-yards 38-105 30-156
Passing yards 63 144
Comp-Att-Int 6-9-0 7-24-1
First Downs 9 12
RUSHING – Roosevelt: Ky. Matejko 11-48, Davis 11-26, Robinson 8-31, Ke. Matejko 6-(-1), Chamberlain 1-1, Singleton 1-0; Oak Park: Washington 16-85, Kelly 9-62, Simms 2-4, Johnson 2-0, Morris 1-5.
PASSING – Roosevelt: Ke. Matejko 6-9-0; Oak Park: Johnson 4-13-1, Simms 3-10-0, Morris 0-1-0.
RECEIVING – Roosevelt: Sowards 2-45, O’Meara 2-1, Stewart 1-11, Cannon 1-6; Oak Park: B. Williams 4-68, Friday 2-50, Jackson 1-26.
Last Updated: 11/10/2012 10:23:49 AM EST