ROSS — The Ross Rams had every right to slack off against Mount Healthy Friday.
It was Senior Night and Homecoming Week. And most importantly, the Rams clinched the Southwest Ohio Conference and a first-round postseason bye with a blowout victory against Edgewood last week.
None of that mattered, though, as Ross locked in and beat the Fighting Owls, 48-21. The Rams (5-1, 5-0 SWOC) finished the regular season undefeated in the SWOC.
“We had all these little distractions on the periphery,” Ross head coach Kenyon Commins said. “And for them to focus and put in the work they did, I’m really, really proud of them for that.”
After the Rams deferred on the opening coin toss, Mount Healthy (2-4, 2-3 SWOC) got the ball first and went backward on each of its first three offensive plays, courtesy of the Ross defense.
The Fighting Owls punted, and the Rams wasted little time on their first possession, scoring on a 32-yard run by Jackson Gifford to take a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Mount Healthy responded two offensive plays later with a touchdown by Isaiah Daniels.
Gifford found the end zone for the second time on Ross’s ensuing drive to retake the lead, 13-7. The Rams failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
Back and forth these teams went in the second quarter.
After the Fighting Owls scored two minutes into the period, the Rams’ C.J. Boze put his team ahead again with a 47-yard scamper.
Mount Healthy answered, but Ross and Gifford punched one in in the final seconds of the half to take a 27-21 advantage into the locker room.
“First half was probably one of the more undisciplined halves of football that I think we’ve played here in four years,” Commins said. “Some special teams snafus, especially with the kickoffs and things like that — there was a lot to clean up at halftime … I think Mount Healthy just played really well that first half.”
Ross received the ball to start the second half, and it capitalized exactly one minute in, as Brayden Fraasman ran for a 15-yard touchdown.
And that was that.
Fraasman and Boze each added another score on the ground in the third, padding Ross’s lead all the way up to 48-21. The Rams’ defense didn’t allow a single point in the second half, and neither team scored in the fourth.
“Two weeks in a row, what happened is we’ve gotten a score right before the half, deferred the coin toss to the second half, and that kind of is that 14-point swing right there,” Commins said. “It really, really helps us out … Once we get up two scores, we’re hard to deal with.”
Ross threw the ball only twice. It totaled 463 rushing yards, led by the usual suspects, Gifford and Boze. Gifford bulldozed his way for a season-high 211 yards. He leads the SWOC in yards and touchdowns.
“Jackson and C.J. (were good), and the o-line — I mean our offensive line is just massive, so they begin to wear on you pretty good in that second half,” Commins said. “It was a good night for us. I’m happy.”
Next Friday, Ross sits out the first round of the playoffs with a bye, and the Fighting Owls host Fenwick at 7 p.m.