EATON TWP. — Midview has been using the passing combination of Cody Callaway to Eric Lauer to bury opponents this season, but after Rocky River took a third-quarter lead Friday night, the Middies found themselves a new hero.
Senior cornerback Zach Bates stepped in front of a Pirates pass and returned it to the end zone to give Midview the lead, then hauled in a long pass from Callaway to put the Middies up by double digits shortly before the fourth quarter.
Callaway and Lauer did what they do best from that point, and the Middies rolled to a 37-14 win in the teams’ West Shore Conference opener.
“I sat back and saw the receiver coming down, and I just read the quarterback’s eyes the whole way,” Bates said. “I broke up on the ball and I knew from there it was a pick-six.”
Rocky River (1-3) had taken a 14-10 lead on Jesse Singler’s second short touchdown run early in the third, then recovered a Lauer fumble on the Midview 38-yard line to fully grab the momentum.
It lasted for two plays.
“As a head coach, I have to put the kids in the right position and I made a crap call on that interception,” Pirates coach Rick Adams said. “I was telling myself to call a timeout, I don’t like it. So that’s my fault.
“It was a whole momentum changer. We just had a fumble recovery, we drive it down there and put it in the end zone and it’s a different ballgame. We had the momentum, we had them on their heels … we let them off the ropes.”
Bates rubbed salt into the wound with his big catch on what he called, “kind of a broken play.”
“He made a great adjustment on one of our sprintout plays and Cody found him,” Middies coach Bill Albright said. “Zach’s a veteran for us, and we expect plays like that out of him. He rose to the occasion when we needed a good thing to happen.”
Good things were few and far between during the first half for the Middies.
Midview (4-0) had to settle for a field goal on its long opening drive, then allowed big gains on runs during the Pirates’ first possession that ended with a Singler score.
“I think we had great practices all week, but I think things fell apart when they walked in the door tonight,” Albright said. “I wasn’t very pleased with their demeanor in the locker room and I think it showed.”
Albright also said his players might have been rattled by a few questionable calls, including a muffed punt return by Rocky River that a Midview player recovered early in the second quarter. The officials gave the ball to the Pirates.
“I think everybody but one person saw (the ball) hit the kid’s hands,” Albright said. “I don’t know … I’m speechless on that one.”
Rocky River found success early by double-teaming Lauer off the line and forcing Callaway to throw to other receivers. The Middies used senior running back David Bakos to loosen up the Pirates’ secondary.
“They were really loading up that side and our offensive guys did a nice job of going through our two-back set and that created some change in their philosophy,” Albright said. “That really opened up Eric. Now they’re one-on-one with him and we really like that matchup.”
Callaway connected on 21 of 28 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns — three to Lauer, who caught four of his six passes in the second half. Three of Callaway’s final four passes went for touchdowns.
“We knew we had to stop the quarterback,” Adams said. “That kid’s a D-I quarterback and he’s going to make big plays. We had to stop him and I thought for almost three quarters we did that.”
Despite the first-half issues, the Middies, who also got interceptions from Brendan Matcham and Dante Redwood, remained unbeaten.
“We’re where we’d like to be, obviously, and we just need to work on some things this week and keep getting better,” Albright said. “We need to clean up some things that are definitely fixable before next week.”
HALL OF A NIGHT: Midview paid tribute to the 2012 class of its Hall of Fame during a short halftime ceremony. The inductees included the mile relay team that placed twice — fifth in 1975 and sixth in ’76 — at the state meet, basketball star Monique Ross Brady, football stars Don Rozanski and Ryan DiFranco, two-sport star Doug Gerber and longtime announcer Jim Couch.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.