The McNicholas Rockets magical 2010 season came to an end Saturday night at Northland High School as they fell to the Bishop Watterson Eagles 20-7 in an Ohio Division III state semi-final game.
McNicholas (11-3) fell behind early and was never able to catch up against a stingy Watterson (12-1) defense. The Eagles dominated the Rockets in the first half, holding them to just 88 total yards and forcing four punts in the game's opening 24 minutes.
Watterson got on the board first on a bizarre play as Brad McCurdy fielded a bad field-goal snap and completed a 17-yard pass Mario Dean to put the Eagles up 7-0.
Quarterback Patrick Rhomberg would push the lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter on a 1-yard quarterback keeper. However, Watterson would miss the kick and leave the score at 13-0.
The Eagles came up with two fumble recoveries on the night, one of which set up a third score as Ray Cook scored on a 17-yard run to push Watterson's lead to 20-0 with 4:16 left in the first half.
The Rockets would finally begin to clamp down at this point of the game, but the lead had grown beyond their control.
McNicholas had a couple of chances to put points on the board early in the second half, but walked away empty handed. They turned it over on downs inside the Watterson 30-yard line and later missed a 34-yard field goal as Patrick DiSalvio's kick hit off the left cross bar.
The Rockets finally found the end zone midway through the fourth quarter when Matt Staubach connected with Dillon Stanfield for a 9-yard touchdown pass. It would be the only points the Eagles would allow as they grinded out the clock and punched their ticket to Massillon to face Akron Buchtel in next Saturday's state championship game.
Staubach finished the night by completing 8-of-21 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. He led the Rockets in rushing, finishing with just 56 yards on 19 carries. Rob Rice picked up 41 yards on 11 attempts and Matt Norish caught three balls for 36 yards in the loss.
The game marked the conclusion of head coach Steve Klonne's remarkable career. The coaching veteran, who picked up his 200th win earlier this season, announced last month he would be retiring at the end of the season. He coached 19 years at Moeller where he posted a 169-48 record and guided the Crusaders to two state titles and five state championship game appearances.
Saturday marked the first time since the Rockets lost to Elyria Catholic in the state championship in 1984 that they played in a state semi-final. Meanwhile, Watterson won a state title in 2002.