Hornets tame Bobcats for impressive win in D-VI
Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde and his Hornets were in their element Nov. 9 at Pat Catan Stadium in Strongsville.
An icy wind was howling, rain turned to snow and the Hornets pounded Creston Norwayne, 35-0, in a Division VI, Region 21 semifinal.
Next up for the Hornets is a regional final against Mogadore on Nov. 16 at a site to be determined.
“I love this weather,” LaVerde said, smiling. “It’s playoff football time in Northeast Ohio. This is the way it should be.”
Hot in pursuit of the program’s fourth state title in seven years, the Hornets improved to 12-0. It was their second straight playoff shutout and seventh overall of the season.
Norwayne had its 10game winning streak emphatically snapped. The Bobcats finished 10-2.
In conditions that lent themselves to old-school power football, the Hornets road-graded the Bobcats behind a powerful offensive line that opened holes for every Kirtland player who touched the ball.
Senior halfback Joey Torok ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Senior fullback Jake Neibecker piled up 117 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.
Senior quarterback Tommy Powers, handling the ball with assurance in miserable conditions, bulled in for two rushing touchdowns.
“We live to play in these conditions,” Kirtland senior offensive tackle Jack Bailey said. “The guys on the O-line take such pride in blocking and opening holes.”
The Hornets wasted no time setting the tone on the frigid evening.
On the first play from scrimmage, Torok took a handoff from Powers, turned left end and raced 56 yards to paydirt. The PAT gave the Hornets a 7-0 lead 18 seconds deep into the first quarter.
After the Kirtland defense stopped the Bobcats on three plays, the offense took over and fashioned an 11-play, 62-yard drive capped by senior halfback Neibecker’s 4-yard TD run. With the PAT, the Hornets had a 14-0 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
With a rain-snow mix driven by a stiff wind pelting the field, neither team dented the scoreboard through the balance of the first half.
Norwayne mounted two long drives of 16 plays and 10 plays, respectively. Neither produced any points. The second drive ended with a Torok interception.
Kirtland gained 155 yards in the first half, all on the ground. Torok had 94 yards on eight carries.
The Hornets owned the second half, getting touchdowns from Powers and Torok in the third quarter and another from Powers in the fourth quarter.
With the Hornets’ lead having ballooned to 35-0, the final 7:48 of the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
Kirtland’s Joey Torok carries during the Hornets’ victory over Norwayne.