Stetzer, Ocasio and Rockhold -- As Always -- Key Express In 56-23 Rout of Heroes
READING, Pa. - It's only the Reading Express' first season and the team is already delivering vintage performances.
Tom Stetzer made all the right decisions, Carmelo Ocasio came up with the big plays and that kicker Erik Rockhold converted just about everything as the Express pulled away to a 56-23 victory over the Huntington Heroes in an American Indoor Football League Northern Conference semifinal Thursday night at the Sovereign Center.
Reading (13-2) will host the winner of the Erie Freeze-Canton Legends semifinals next Thursday. The Heroes finished their inaugural season 9-6.
Stetzer threw for 271 yards and five touchdowns - three to Ocasio while Rockhold nailed two field goals, three rouges and was 6-7 on PATs to lead Reading to its twelfth consecutive victory.
So what else is new? They do this every week.
"We've been solid all season," said Reading coach Ollie Guidry. "Ever since the early part of the season, we've just gotten better and better."
There was some concern Reading may come in rusty after facing less than stellar competition in its final four games. Stetzer wasn't bothered.
"The last few weeks, we just tried to get ready for tonight," Stetzer said. "We didn't get beat up those game and had a chance to get everyone healthy."
Huntington did a good job of slowing the game down and keep Ocasio's touches to a minimum. But just like Rockhold, Ocasio scored nearly every time he touched the ball. Ocasio had just five catches for 87 yards.
But they were all big. His only catch in the first half went for just five yards, but it was a second-effort touchdown just 10 second before halftime that gave Reading a 26-14 halftime lead.
"Huntington rolled their coverage towards Carmelo," Guidry said . "We made some adjustments and there's only so many things you can do defensively.
Rockhold's rouges and field goals gave Reading extra breathing room until the Express opened up a 37-20 lead on a 14-yard Stetzer to Ocasio strike in the third quarter.
"Someone from Huntington said in an online interview that it's hard to play us when we're getting eight points and four points for a field goal,'' Rockhold said. "That's my job. Coach Guidry lets me go for the rouge every time. It helps out the defense with the points and putting the other team at the five-yard line."
Huntington had to settle for a field goal on a fourth-quarter drive after Joe Macaluso sacked Heroes quarterback Fred Ray for a 14-yard loss. Reading then pulled away, getting two Wayne Davis runs wrapped around a 42-yard Stetzer to Ocasio strike.
Shawn Foxworth, benefiting from Huntington's focus on Ocasio, had 12 catches for 119 yards and one touchdown for the Express.
Huntington led 7-1 on Ray's 40-yarded to James Hawkins on their first possession, but never led again.
Ray finished with 206 yards. Hawkins had seven catches for 96 yards and Shane Holsinger seven for 95.
"We didn't want this to become a track meet,'' said Huntington coach Garry McPeak. "But it got away from us in the fourth quarter."
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