Hor­nets tame Bob­cats for im­pres­sive win in D-VI

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By David S. Glasier dglasier@news-her­ald.com @nh­glasier on Twit­ter

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.

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