However, the second half belonged to senior speedster Curan Simmons, Prep's 5-9, 150-pound wide receiver who scored three times in the third frame alone.
Strothers finished with 163 yards and three scores on 13 carries (12.5 per). Simmons finished with 127 yards and three scores on seven receptions (18.8 per).
"We just regrouped as a team," said Simmons, who already tied the city record for receiving touchdowns in a game with four against School of the Future in early October. "And we wanted to get the pride and enthusiasm back because we were a little down in the first half."
Junior quarterback Vian Dolo returned after missing last week with an injured shoulder. He went 9-for-16 for 187 and three scores, but was also picked off twice.
No. 3-seeded Roxborough (1-4 PL AA) was led by do-it-all senior Hank Adens, who intercepted two passes and returned a kickoff 76 yards for a score. The 5-8, 155-pounder also added 57 yards rushing at quarterback.
Adens' kick return followed a 61-yard scoring run by Strothers that gave PC a 14-6 lead. Strothers also authored the game's first score with a 55-yard gallop early in the first. The sophomore had another long TD run called back because of a holding penalty.
But after what he thought was a mistake-filled first half, Simmons saw four seasons of disappointment in his mind and used it as motivation.
"Being here all 4 years and not making the playoffs really hurt," Simmons said. "As a senior, this was my last opportunity, and I just made it a priority."
Strothers kept things rolling with a 28-yarder just three plays into the third quarter. A Roxborough fumble, recovered by Rand Williams provided Simmons with an opportunity.
On third-and-13, Simmons caught a screen pass and slithered his way through defenders for a 33-yard score. On its next series, PC used the same play on a fourth-and-long and Simmons delivered a 22-yard score.
Earning yards after the catch was a weakness of Simmons' game last season and something he worked on during the offseason.
With the defense primed by short screen passes, the grand finale was a 49-yarder deep down the right sideline.
"I think a lot of people were doubting me and didn't think I would have a big year this year," said Simmons, who is among Pub leaders in receiving yardage. "That motivated me a lot. I wanted to prove it to myself and to the doubters."
The young man from West Philadelphia, who loves history and carries a 2.9 GPA, said he missed a few games last season because of family issues, and played mostly defense.
After putting up more than 700 receiving yards this season (691 in the regular season), Simmons is hoping to get a college opportunity, though he seems to keep things in perspective.
"I do want to play football next year in college, but my main focus is going to college I like, because people are telling me that football isn't everything," Simmons said. "You have to get an education, and that's the main goal."
With a 12-6 victory against West Philadelphia last night, Mastery Charter clinched the Pub's AAA title. Franklin still plays King Saturday night in the Northeast, but because Mastery beat Franklin head-to-head, Mastery clinched Friday.
On Twitter: @AceCarterDN