ERIE — On fourth down and 10, Erie's Noah Roper motioned left out of the backfield and found himself facing one-on-one coverage on the outside.
"What's going through my mind?," Roper asked. "Better not drop this. I beat him, I got to the outside, and I couldn't ask for a better ball from my quarterback."
Quarterback Jacob Mansdorfer, in his second week playing quarterback, connected with Roper on a deep ball in the endzone to give No. 5 Erie a 12-10 lead against No. 6 Silver Creek. The Tigers rode the momentum to win Friday by a score of 18-10.
"Put the ball in the hands of the best player that you have," Erie coach Chad Cooper said. "I did not want to go down without doing that."
Silver Creek knew it had to contain Roper, who came into the game with 863 rushing yards.
The defense did it's job through one and a half quarters. Then, Roper busted open a 35-yard run, breaking five tackels on the play to give Erie its first first down with five minutes left in the half.
Roper capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run up the gut. Roper was stopped in the backfield on the 2-point conversion attempt.
"This game is going to get the wheels going," Roper said. "This game proves to everyone that Erie is great. We've been trying to be something great for a long time, and now we're going to keep it going."
Facing a third and goal from the 28, Andreik Knechtel took a screen pass for the touchdown to give No. 6 Silver Creek a 10-6 lead against No. 5 Erie just before halftime.
Silver Creek got on the board after taking advantage of a turnover on special teams. Roper fumbled on the punt return, giving the Raptors the ball on the 31.
Coltan Grabau put a 26-yard field goal through the uprights to put Silver Creek on the board first with a 3-0 lead.
"After that punt, nobody on my team was mad at me," Roper said. "They all gave me positive thoughts. I told my self, you know what, go have a hell of a game and make up for this fumble. That's exactly what I did with the help of my teammates."
Facing a third and four from the 26, Silver Creek lofted a pass on a wheel route, but Roper came in and knocked ball out of Brandin Graves' hands with a huge hit.
The Raptors faked the punt on the ensuing play, but the pass was incomplete and Erie took over with 6:24 in the final quarter.
Erie tried to put the game on ice with a fourth down and inches from the five, but was unable to convert, giving Silver Creek the ball with three minutes to go.
The Tiger defense came up huge on the next drive, forcing a turnover on downs to escape Silver Creek.
"Everyone thinks that we're nothing and our schedule is easy," Roper said. "They think the only reason we're a good team is because our schedule is easy. This game proves them wrong."
Roper ran it in on the next play to officially put the game out of reach as Erie rode an 18-10 victory to a 5-0 start.
"It's a step in the right direction for our program," Coooper said. "It's a great win, especially defensively. The defense came out, had a great gameplan, and executed it really well to hold an explosive team to 10 points."