All it takes are a few mistakes to cost a team a football game.
Olmsted Falls found that out the hard way against North Royalton on Oct. 16.
The Bulldogs played perfect ball control offense in the third and fourth quarters after giving up several big plays to the Bears in the first 24 minutes. It worked well, but Olmsted Falls couldn’t finish its drives and it cost them as North Royalton won in double overtime, 33-27.
“We’ve just got to keep drives going. We stalled on a couple and gave up a couple big plays in the first half,” Olmsted Falls coach Tom DeLuca said. “We missed a few opportunities, and that’s what happens.”
The opening drive to the third quarter was played perfectly by Olmsted Falls, as the Bulldogs took nearly five minutes off the clock before scoring a touchdown.
Senior tailback Andrew Parkowski carried the ball seven times for 54 yards, marching his team down the field. He finished off the 80-yard drive with a 3-yard hammering run to tie the game at 20.
“He’s one of the best all-around kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” DeLuca said. “He does everything the right way, treats people the right way, does everything right in the classroom and the he’s outstanding here on the field.”
Parkowski finished with 32 carries for 163 yards and the touchdown.
The Bulldogs’ formula continued after Luke Dieckman intercepted North Royalton quarterback Michael Piazza inside the red zone. But the Bulldogs failed to finish the ensuing drive with points.
With the ball at the North Royalton 24, needing just three yards for a fresh set of downs, Olmsted Falls had runs go for a loss of one and zero yards, with the latter coming on fourth down.
After a stalled Bears drive, the offense got another chance to take the lead, this time converting on fourth-and-short as Parkowski found a hole for 4 yards with just over three minutes to go.
But this time, a holding penalty backed Olmsted Falls up before they were forced to attempt a 41-yard field goal with 1:19 left in regulation. The kick was no good, and the game headed to overtime.
Rocco Conti, who stood out in the second half alongside Parkowski, found the end zone from 6 yards out to force a second overtime. In the second half, Conti carried 12 times for 61 yards and a score, finishing the game with 18 carries for 127 yards and two scores.
The Bulldogs’ opening possession of the second overtime ended in an interception, leading to Piazza’s 7-yard touchdown to end the game.
“We just had big play after big play (in overtime),” North Royalton coach Nick Ciulli said. “I’m just in shock right now, because I thought maybe it would be a go for two (situation for North Royalton), but instead our defense came up with a big stop with the pick.”
North Royalton has now won two in a row after finishing the regular season winless. Both wins have come in multiple overtimes.
“It’s resilience,” Ciulli said. “Everybody has been through a lot, we’re no different than everybody else. But again these kids, at the end they found a way to do it. I’m so proud of them right now.”
By Rob Difranco
The Morning Journal
Posted on October 16th, 2020