ERIE - A region title will have to wait.
The ferocious defense and big-play ability of the Cathedral Prep Ramblers was just too much for the Warren Dragons to overcome in a 37-2 Region 6 loss Friday at Dollinger Field.
While the loss ends Warren's chances of a region crown, the Dragons will still be a part of the field when the District 10 Class AAA playoffs get underway in two weeks.
Friday's game was a struggle from the onset for the upstart Dragons, who entered the biggest contest of the season with a 7-1 overall record and 4-1 mark in the region. The Ramblers needed just under two-and-a-half minutes to display the dominating defense and quick-strike offense that has them one victory from an outright region crown.
Warren received the ball to start the game and succumbed to a quick three and out. When Prep took over on offense, it needed just one play to find the end zone. Quarterback Damion Terry dropped back and immediately looked deep, finding Kimani Smith who raced untouched into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown.
The Dragons caught a break on the extra point as Prep kicker Noah Ackerman saw his extra point deflected and fall short.
Times Observer photo by Mitch Wilston
Warren defenders Rex Graham (25) and Eric Buck sneak up on Cathedral Prep quarterback Damion Terry in a Dragons loss against Cathedral Prep on Friday.
Both defenses controlled play for the remainder of the first quarter and part of the second. Matt Stapleford stopped one Prep drive with an interception, but it was a pick by the Ramblers' Michael Amendola that helped set the stage for Prep's next score.
Amendola's pick gave Prep the ball near midfield and the Ramblers put together a methodical nine-play drive that ended with Anthony Jordan's seven-yard touchdown run. Ackerman's extra point was true and Prep led 13-0 with 6:10 left in the opening half.
Jordan would prove to be a thorn in the Dragons' side all night as the hard running junior clipped off 161 yards for the contest. Included in those 161 yards was a 69-yard touchdown run with 2:25 left in the first half that closed out the scoring in the first 24 minutes and put Prep up 20-0.
Jordan would find paydirt for the third time in the game to kick off the second half scoring. This time, Jordan was on the receiving end of a Terry pass. On a 4th and 2 play, Terry hit Jordan who caught the ball in the end zone for a 30-yard score and a 27-0 lead.
One of the few highlights for the Dragons came on Prep's next drive.
Stapleford booted a punt inside the Prep 20 and a Ramblers penalty moved the ball back inside the 10. On the first snap of the possession, Terry rolled right, planting in the end zone. Dragons' linebacker Rex Graham pounced on the Prep signal caller who wildly tried to throw the ball away to avoid the safety. Terry was called for intentional grounding and since the foul occurred in the end zone, Warren was credited with two points.
That would be the end of the good times for the Dragons as Prep's outstanding special teams unit contributed the final 10 points of the outing.
First, Delton Williams made several Dragons miss and raced 70 yards for a highlight reel punt return touchdown that pushed the Prep lead to 34-2. With 5:14 left in the game, Ackerman connected on a 35-yard field goal that put Prep up 37-2 and put the mercy rule into effect for the final moments of the game.
Prep's defense limited Warren's usually potent offense to just five first downs and 64 yards of total offense. Graham led the Dragons with 31 rushing yards and Stapleford was 5-of-17 for 27 yards with a pick. Andrew Morrison caught all five of Stapleford's passes for 27 yards.
The Dragons (7-2) close out the regular season in Corry on Friday. Prep (5-4) can lock up an outright region title with a victory over Erie East Friday at Erie Veterans Stadium.
P- Damion Terry to Kimani Smith 57 pass, 9:27, kick failed
P- Anthony Jordan 7 run, 6:10, Noah Ackerman kick
P- Jordan 69 run, 2:25, Ackerman kick
P- Terry to Jordan 30 pass, 3:54, Ackerman kick
W- Safety, Rex Graham sacked Terry in end zone, 1:59
P- Delton Williams 70 punt return, 0:02, Ackerman kick
P- Ackerman 35 field goal, 5:14
RUSHING: W- Rex Graham 6 for 31, T.J. Latimer 9 for 17, Andrew Morrison 1 for 0, Chris McNeal 2 for -2, Matt Stapleford 4 for -24; P- Anthony Jordan 17 for 161, 2 TD, Dearis Williams 5 for 18, Markel Keys 2 for 9, Randy Kaliszewski 2 for 6, Damion Terry 6 for 2
PASSING- W- Matt Stapleford 5 of 17 for 27, INT, Austin Jerman 2 of 3 for 15; P- Damion Terry 10 of 18 for 160, 2 TD, INT
RECEIVING- W- Andrew Morrison 5 for 27, Pat Kavinski 1 for 12, Brad Walters 1 for 3; P- Anthony Jordan 4 for 45, TD, Kimani Smith 2 for 62, TD, Delton Williams 2 for 20, Luke Trucilla 1 for 27, Dearis Williams 1 for 6