SKIP BAUGHMAN STADIUM -- The 2006 edition of the MHS Roughrider football team had its hands full with an Urbana Hillclimber team looking to improve on last year's 6-3 season record at Friday's annual "Chicken Bowl" scrimmage.
The new scoreboard told the tale after the three quarters of first-string play: Home 0, Guest 7. St. Marys' offensive line had little success opening a hole for the traditional dive/trap/sweep offense, resulting in only four Rider first downs, one by pass, while the Hillclimbers moved the ball for 16 first downs overall.
Both teams traded three-and-outs to start the scrimmage, until Urbana went to the shotgun and opened the passing game on its second possession. The Hillclimber quarterback proved to be an elusive ball carrier when forced to run, and he led his team down to the St. Marys 7 yard line.
The Rider "D" then made the first of several big defensive plays that kept St. Marys in the game. A blitz on 2nd-and-1 forced an Urbana fumble that the Riders recovered on the 12 yard line. St. Marys' first first down, a nice 12-yard pass completion, gave the home fans something to cheer about, but the drive stalled three plays later on an incomplete halfback pass attempt and the Riders had to punt.
After exchanging three-and-outs again, Urbana took the ball on its own 40 and marched to paydirt. Six complete passes and a couple of effective runs put the Hillclimbers on the St. Marys one yard line. A quarterback sneak and PAT kick set the game score with 5:10 remaining in the second quarter.
After taking the ensuing kickoff, the Riders mounted their most productive drive of the scrimmage, moving the ball for two first downs on five running plays. But on 3rd and seven a pass fell incomplete, and the ball was punted to the Urbana 25 yard line where the visitors took over possession.
Two quick passes moved the ball 37 yards. Despite a holding penalty, Urbana got another first down on the next play, an 18 yard pass to the St. Marys 30 yard line. Then the Rider defense stepped up again, forcing an incompletion with pressure on the quarterback and then recovering a fumble on a quarterback sack on the next play. The Riders took the ball on their own 37 yard line and managed to run three plays in the 12.6 seconds left in the half, but only moved the ball three yards before time ran out.
Urbana came out of halftime swinging for the fences, and quickly moved the ball past midfield on a 10-yard pass and quarterback scrambles of 5 and 20 yards. But a bomb to the corner was a bad idea, and the Riders intercepted it and ran it all the way out to the Urbana 47 yard line for the best field position St. Marys would enjoy in the scrimmage. Three running plays netted a first down, but four more only gained another nine yards and the Hillclimbers took over on downs.
A pass for 20 yards and a QB draw for 26 more quickly put Urbana deep in St. Marys territory again. The defense stuffed a screen pass for minus two yards and recorded another sack for a loss of 12 more, and Urbana's passing luck fell short on a 4th-and-20 incompletion.
The Riders' luck never changed, unfortunately. The wingback counter on first down was stopped for no gain on the way to another 3-and-out punt series. Urbana took the ball on their own 45.
Five plays include three complete passes for 34 yards took the Climbers to the Rider 24 yard line. But three consecutive fade passes were incomplete and St. Marys took over with time to run one play. A one-yard run ran out the clock and the scrimmage ended Urbana 7, St. Marys 0.
Both teams are deep enough to permit platooning on second string, and two second-string scrimmages were held simultaneously at opposite ends of the field after the first-string scrimmage was done. Similar to the Piqua scrimmage, St. Marys seemed to have the better back-up team, as the Riders scored first on a halfback pass and second on a long run.
The Roughriders take the field for real next Friday at home, hosting the Sidney Yellowjackets.