MCGUFFEY — Pandora-Gilboa quarterback Cory Gerten shook off two early interceptions to pass for three touchdowns and help propel the Rockets to a 42-8 win over Upper Scioto Valley in the opening round of the Division VII playoffs Friday night.
With the win, Pandora-Gilboa improves to 8-3 on the year and will play McComb in the next round. The Rams end their year with an 8-3 mark.
The Rocket freshman signal caller finished the game 2o of 28 for 269 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
It doesn’t hurt Gerten or the Rockets that they sport two excellent receives to throw to in perennial all-state performer Aiden Morris and Collin Harris. Morris finished the night with nine catches for 160 yards and one touchdown and Harris grabbed nine catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think he (Gerten) settled in nicely,” P-G head coach Matt Hershey said. “He has a lot of talent and has to trust himself at times but once he got calmed down we were fine. USV is a good team and they prepared to beat us so they are going to do some good things and do somethings that make us change our game play a little and they did and it took a little while to get started but credit to our guys they kept battling.”
After a slow start that saw a scoreless first quarter, It was a 65 yard pass from Gerten to Morris in the second quarter that got the Rockets rolling offensively and give them a 7-0 advantage that went to 14-0 when Gerten hooked up Harris late in the first half.
Hershey said the first touchdown pass was the spark that the team needed.
“We are a much better team when we have a little confidence and playing loose and having a little fun out there,” Hershey said. “The other team is there to beat you so bad things are going to happen at times and they are going to make tackles but we have to keep coming back and keep fighting and have that next play mentality.”
In the second half, the Rockets relied on the legs of all-Blanchard Valley Conference performer Ethan Luginbill to produce yardage and points as the standout senior tailback finished with 176 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.
“Collin Harris and Aiden Morris are two of the best receivers in the area,” Hershey said. “There is no doubt in my mind and they made plays all night long. Cory did a great job of taking what the defense gave him and it worked. I told him at halftime when it doubt throw to them (Harris and Morris) because they are going to make you look good.”
Defensively, the Rockets were instrumental in recording the big win as they prevented USV from capitalizing on three turnovers in the first half and were able to contain the Rams’ rushing attack.
Morris added an interception to his big night on offense.
Rams running back Alex Sanders finished with 105 yards on 18 carries but most of those yards came in the second half when he switched to quarterback in the final two stanza and helped the Rams to their only score of the night when he connected with Jason Helton for a 40 yard touchdown pass.
“No. 7 (Sanders) is a great back and then they put him at quarterback to open up the offense in the second half but our coaches had a great game plan and our kids really bought into it and played physical and that was the biggest concern for us coming in and could our guys be physical enough,” Hershey said. “Credit those guys rotating in and out. I don’t know the stats but we forced them to go to the spread in the third quarter and that is pretty good night for our defense giving up one touchdown.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.