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Franklin Roosevelt High School falls to Harry Truman High School in the championship game at MCU Park.

Cougars fall to Truman in bowl title game

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There was no dramatic comeback this time.

The sixth-seeded Franklin D. Roosevelt football team used a last-minute fake field goal to reach the finals, but there was no 11th-hour spectacle in the championship game. The team’s quest for a second-straight title ended with a bitter, 42–14 loss to No. 2 Truman in the Public School Athletic League Bowl Conference championship at MCU Park on Dec. 5. Still getting there was an accomplishment in itself, one player said.

“No one thought we were going to come back here and play again,” senior ReJohn Williams said. “I’m proud that we actually did make it here.”

Roosevelt managed just one offensive touchdown all game, and Truman shut down quarterback Nadir Hassan and the Cougars’ potent rushing attack. It put the team in a 36–8 hole and left coach Paul Klyap impressed with the new champs.

“We were pulling out some pretty tough games [all year], and it just ran out on us,” he said. “They’re good. Truman was good. I give all the credit to them.”

Truman jumped out to a 16–0 lead in the second quarter. Roosevelt responded with a nine-play, 74-yard drive capped by a six-yard touchdown pass from Hassan to ReJohn Williams with 43.8 seconds left.

Just as it looked like the Cougars squad was turning the tables, Truman stole the momentum right back. Roosevelt (10–4) attempted to boot the ensuing kickoff away from Truman’s main returner Ramon Jefferson, but Mustangs quarterback Imotep Cromer took it and went the distance for a 72-yard touchdown return. Just like that, Truman (12–1) led by two scores at halftime — and Roosevelt was never the same after that.

“That killed us. That really hurt,” Klyap said. “We got the ball on the ground like we wanted to, and it just didn’t happen.”

Roosevelt attempted an onside kick to open the second quarter, and Williams appeared to have recovered it, but the ball stayed with Truman. Cromer and George Obesaki each scored third-quarter touchdowns to push the Truman lead to 36–8.

The Cougars got back on the board with an 82-yard kickoff return and touchdown by Williams midway through the third, but the offense never got fully going.

Williams tried a trick play, but Hassan threw an interception to safety Damone Bailey. The next and final possession ended in the same fashion, this time in the red zone — Bailey picked off Hassan inside the 20.

Ten Cougars seniors closed out their careers with the loss, but they remain proud of the success they have had the last few years, which included the school’s first title.

“We never gave up on each other,” Williams said. “We’re always going to be here even after the season. We’re going to be here for each other no matter what.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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