WEST LIBERTY – It was all Mechanicsburg right from the opening kickoff Friday night as the Indians rolled over rival West Liberty-Salem, 44-0, to improve to 6-0 on the season.
Mechanicsburg scored on its opening possession on a 47-yard run by Kaleb Romero. The Indians missed the extra point, but Romero was just getting warmed up on a chilly night.
The Tigers moved the ball here and there on the Indians’ defense, but couldn’t put it in the end zone and watched as time and again Mechanicsburg rolled down the field.
”Kaleb’s a special kid. Everyone knows that,” MHS Coach Kurt Forrest said. “We’re going to take what you give us – and if you give us Kaleb’s running, then we’ll take that.”
The Indians opened it up in the second quarter after getting a turnover on downs at the team’s own 20-yard line.
Romero flipped the field immediately with a long pass to Jacob Bowers, then scored on a 3-yard run off left tackle. He added a two-point conversion run to make it 14-0.
On West Liberty-Salem’s next drive, quarterback Brandon Upton fumbled on an option run and the Indians took over at the MHS 40.
It didn’t take long for the Indians to march down the field behind Romero, as he followed an incredible, powerful 20-yard run with a 3-yard scoring run to the right side. He punched it in for another two-pointer to make it 22-0.
After another WL-S drive stalled out, Romero struck for his fourth touchdown run on a 46-yard scamper and bounced into the end zone for yet another conversion to make it 30-0 a minute before the half ended.
“They did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage when they needed to,” WL-S Coach Dan McGill said. “We have to come back and be disciplined on both sides of the ball.”
Romero had one more big play in the first half, ripping the ball away from a receiver on a completed pass and returning it to the house for a score. The officials ruled the play was dead after the return, drawing the ire of Forrest.
The ruling gave the Tigers one more heave at the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete.
The second half was largely uneventful, with the running clock in effect. Phil Cook shouldered the offensive load for Mechanicsburg, scoring on runs of 3 and 47 yards. The Tigers recovered a fumble on a shotgun snap that didn’t reach Romero and Drew Myers intercepted a pass by Upton. The reserves played the final 7 minutes of game time.
The Indians dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the game, keeping pressure on the WL-S offense and gashing the Tigers’ defense.
“They’re a tight-knit and intelligent group,” Forrest said of his line, adding that the whole team is that way. “Every day, we do something special.”
Romero was extra special, racking up 174 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries. He added 117 yards through the air on 3-of-6 passing. Cook had 104 yards and two scores on 9 carries.
Brandon Wolfe and Trevor Anderson combined to rack up 81 yards on 25 carries for WL-S.
Next Friday night, the Indians host Springfield Catholic Central and the Tigers play at Cedarville.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.