John Carroll gets past crosstown rival BW
Rick Finotti received a game ball from his John Carroll football team on Sept. 16.
It signified his first victory as coach of the Blue Streaks after a 24-21 win over crosstown rival Baldwin Wallace that secured the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl trophy for a fifth straight season.
Finotti might have handed the ball off to two of his players, running back Sam Kukura of Kirtland, and defensive back Mike Connick of Chardon.
They came up huge late and were instrumental in JCU’s Ohio Athletic Conference win.
Finotti and the staff literally handed the ball off to Kukura, who picked up key chunks of yards in the fourth quarter to help spark the Blue Streaks’ final scoring drive, which resulted in the game’s final points — a 21-yard field goal by Matt Danko.
Then Connick’s big play, an interception of BW quarterback Jake Hudson, capped the win. The Chardon grad made the play deep in JCU territory with under a minute to play.
“I kind of had trouble in practice all week breaking on the ball. But I saw the ball go up and I took off as fast as I can and tried to make a play,” said Connick. “(Starter Ray Brewster) went down, and I had to go in there and help the team win.”
A kneel down by QB Anthony Moeglin, another of JCU’s heroes, secured the win, but Connick’s big play filling in for the starter Brewster, who went out of the game with an injury, caught the attention of Fi- notti.
Connick began preseason camp fourth on the team’s depth chart, but he earned his way on the field with solid practices, said Finotti. His game-saving pick had his coach all smiles afterward.
“Great catch. Unbelievable catch. It was incredible,” said Finotti.
“Mike Connick’s one of those guys that just does everything right. He works so hard. I’m so proud of him.”
With the game tied, 21-21, midway through the fourth quarter, the Blue Streaks drove 57 yards in 13 plays in more than six minutes to the BW 4. They eventually settled for the Danko field goal, and that proved to be enough.
John Carroll’s Sam Kukura fights for yardage against Baldwin Wallace.