A disastrous quarter leads to Elma losing to Castle Rock.
Luck grew in the opposite direction for the Elma Eagles in a 28-10 loss to Castle Rock on Friday at Davis Field in Elma.
The Eagles (1-2 overall) were close in the first half with the Rockets (1-2), but a disastrous third quarter led to Castle Rock scoring three touchdowns in just over three minutes of game time, and Elma never recovered.
The Eagles opened the scoring when kicker Matthew Wood nailed a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter after a promising Elma drive stalled inside the Rockets’ 10-yard line.
Castle Rock took a 7-3 lead into halftime after receiver Thatcher Heller caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Rogen over the top of the Elma defense with less than a minute gone in the second quarter.
Elma’s offense took its next drive into the Rockets’ red zone, but it ended with a turnover on downs that was followed later in the quarter by an Elma drive that started and ended at midfield as the Eagles went three-and-out.
With Elma still in the game despite its offense suffering from too many penalties and poor timing, the Eagles’ offense got going early in the second half and drove to the Rockets’ 23-yard line.
But as would be a theme throughout the game, Elma’s offense sputtered late in the drive after initially showing promise. An errant penalty put the Eagles back within the 27th minute and was followed by an interception of Studer’s pass to give the ball back to the Rockets.
The Elma defense forced the Rockets to make a three-and-out and the offense came out and got the ball back with excellent field position at the Castle Rock 41.
But an illegal turnover penalty followed by three incompletions relegated the Eagles to fourth place. Disaster struck when the shot sailed wide over Elma punter Jacob Meadows’ head and deep into Eagles territory, allowing the Rockets to take control of the Eagles 20.
Castle Rock’s offense wouldn’t let the opportunity slip away, needing two plays to score on a 16-yard run from junior running back Owen Langdon to take a 14-3 lead with 3:19 remaining in the quarter.
About a minute later, Landon intercepted a Studer pass and returned it 45 yards for a six-score touchdown and a 21-3 lead.
After an Elma three-and-out followed by a blocked punt, Castle Rock went ahead by three scores on a 7-yard run from halfback Ian Burton, giving the Rockets a 28-3 lead with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
With senior linebacker Tanner Thompson and Studer sidelined with minor ailments, the comeback looked bleak for the Eagles.
But sophomore backup quarterback Isaac McGaffey — who has emerged as the Eagles’ best player this season — drove the Eagles deep into Rockets territory with a layup pass to receiver Blaise Salazar for 19 yards.
A few plays later, McGaffey ran in a 9-yard scoring drive with just 21.8 seconds on the clock to give the Elma faithful something to cheer about, albeit a short-lived one.
The play came with its fair share of controversy as Elma sophomore Donovan Kalakowski’s facemask was caught while driving Castle Rock senior lineman Ethan Inman to the ground on a legal block.
The celebration of McGaffey’s touchdown was cut short when medical staff immediately rushed to Kalakosky, who was on his hands and knees and writhing in pain while having trouble breathing after being struck in the throat area following the play.
Castle Rock was charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but no players were ejected from the game despite protests from the Elma coaching staff.
Elma’s coaches plan to send game film to the WIAA for review and possible further disciplinary action.
The play angered several Elma players and led to some words being exchanged during the postgame handshake. Coaches from both teams intervened and the public address announcer ordered the field evacuated while both teams headed to their locker rooms without further incident.
According to Elma co-coach Larry Raines, Kalakowski was breathing and speaking normally after the game and left under his supervision.
As for the game, Elma outrebounded Castle Rock 253-228, but turned the ball over three times and had eight penalties for 46 yards, most of which were 5-yard pick-ups that often hampered Elma’s offensive drives and momentum.
“We were fighting and adapting to the adversity that came our way and it kind of got the better of us. We got into our own way with a lot of penalties,” Reigns said.
The Eagles will look to get back on track when they host Columbia (White Salmon) at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Castle Rock 0 7 21 0 – 28
Elma 3 0 0 7 – 10
E – Wood 22 field goal, 4:47
CR – Hiller 19 pass from Rogen (Wallace kick), 7:05
CR – Langdon 16 Rush (Wallace kick), 3:19
CR – Langdon 44th interception return (Wallace kick), 2:18
CR – Burton round 8 (Wallace kick), 0:13
The fourth quarter
E – Gray McGaffey 10 (wooden kick), 0:21
Pass leaders: CR – Rogen 1-20-1-72. E – Studer 8-21-2-102, McGuffey 5-8-0-90.
Rush Leaders: CR – Burton 14-104, Langdon 4-22, Heller 4-20, Orth 1-7, Swihart 1-2, Rogen 5-1. E – Muller 12-31, Phillips 5-18, McGuffey 7-16, Salazar 1-2, Reeves 2-0, Studer 3-(-11).
Receiving Leaders: CR – Mead 2-28, Heller 1-19, Langdon 3-14, Burton 2-9, Williams 1-2. E – Wright 2-51, Brookins 2-36, Meadows 3-31, Reeves 1-25, Sneijder 1-20, Salazar 1-19, McGaffey 2-15, Muller 1-0.