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Kenston defense prevails
Kenston defense prevails
By TONY LANGE
What seemed would be an offensive outburst turned into a defensive battle last Friday night as Kenston protected the home turf with a Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division triumph against West Geauga. Kenston improved to 5-1, while West Geauga dropped to 3-3 in conference action.
With a four-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, Chagrin Falls cruised to a team victory against Orange. The Tigers remained unbeaten on the season and improved to 6-0 in the Chagrin Division. The win secured at least a share of the conference title. Orange dropped its fifth straight and is 1-5 in the Chagrin Division.
In other CVC play, Aurora routed Harvey 68-7. The Greenmen improved to 5-1 in the Chagrin Division and Harvey remained winless at 0-6.
Down by a touchdown, Perry scored seven unanswered touchdowns to down Wickliffe 56-21. The Pirates improved to 2-4, while Wickliffe fell to 2-4 in the Chagrin Division.
West Geauga 9
Kenston's stalwart defensive efforts continued at Bomber Stadium last Friday night as the Bombers (6-3, 5-1) triumphed 12-9 against West Geauga (6-3, 3-3) in a playoff-like matchup.
"That was just like we talked about: Playing good, old hardass Kenston football," head coach Pete Thompson said during the postgame huddle. "We knocked them out. Really enjoy this one."
Just weeks ago, Kenston's season appeared broken at 2-3. The Bombers were giving up 32.6 points a game and could not stop their opponents from rushing the football.
A couple of minor adjustments, however, and all-Ohio caliber safety Alex Kocheff, was set to go at linebacker in week six against Orange.
Since then, the Bombers have gone 4-0 with the defense allowing just 7.25 points per game.
"We struggled in the first five games of the season stopping the run," Kocheff said. "I was worried about moving to linebacker, but it's great. I'm up close to the ball and I can still cover the short passes."
In last Friday's West Geauga game, Kocheff delivered a huge hit on Joe Ziccardi during West Geauga's first offensive series. As the Wolverines' leading offensive weapon, Ziccardi appeared off during his next carry and left the game. He did not return.
The Wolverines still managed a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line on that drive, but had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Andy Bryan to take an early 3-0 lead.
On Kenston's ensuing possession, Nick Lombardy led Kenston's run game on a 73-yard, 14-play drive, which concluded with quarterback Austin Zachem's 3-yard run and dive into the end zone for the 7-3 lead.
Lombardy had 18 carries for 101 yards in the first half, but would only manage five more rushing yards in the game as the defensive tussle came about in the second half.
"My linemen out front were doing a heck of a job and we pushed it downfield and scored," Lombardy said about Kenston's only touchdown drive. "We just tried to keep on going and do what we do, but it was the defense that won the game. They did everything."
Ignited by Kocheff's interception, the Bombers scored a 25-yard field goal by Sky Zahner on their next possession to make it 10-3 at the 7:40 mark in the second quarter
The three-and-outs then started to pile up for both teams.
At the end of the third quarter, after Kenston dropped and lost a punt return, West Geauga recovered the ball on the Bombers' 13-yard line. Kenston's Ryan Snedeker had a tackle for a loss and a fourth-and-one sack that prevented West Geauga from scoring.
"My mindset was hold them, make a big play and it will change the whole game," Snedeker said. "It was just determination. After that sack, it just felt like everybody in the stadium got up and we knew we weren't going to lose from then on."
After Kenston failed to convert a fake punt on fourth-and-12, however, the Wolverines got the ball on the Bombers' 39-yard line and were able to score a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter with Zak Kucera's 5-yard pass to Nick Cuthbert. The Wolverines missed the extra-point kick and trailed 10-9.
Flags pinned the Wolverines on their own six during their next possession and a bad snap out of the back of their own end zone gave Kenston a 12-9 lead and the ball with 4:28 left in the game.
An eight-yard run on fourth-and-seven by Zachem gave the Bombers their final first down and allowed them to keep possession until time ran out.
"I was going to the outside," Zachem said about that play. "I was thinking about trying to cut back but then I saw that first down and I told myself I had to get it no matter what because I knew that would be the game."
Chagrin Falls 27
Chagrin Falls (9-0, 6-0) secured at least a share of the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title with its 27-6 victory against Orange (3-6, 1-5).
"We talked with our players Saturday and they're not satisfied with that," Chagrin Falls head coach Mark Iammarino said. "We talked about the opportunity to finish off the season undefeated and what it would mean. Not too many teams in the 100-year history of Chagrin football have done that, so we really want to make sure that we get that accomplished. That's our primary goal this week."
Against Orange, the Tigers took a 21-0 lead by halftime. Kurt Vidmer put the Tigers up 7-0 on a 3-yard touchdown run. Jack Campbell extended the lead to 14-0 on a 10-yard run in the first quarter.
Tommy Iammarino put Chagrin up by three scores with a 7-yard run in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Vidmer scored on a 4-yard run for the 27-0 lead.
Bradley Munday tallied 113 yards rushing for the Tigers.
Orange's touchdown came in the fourth quarter on a 52-yard run by Josiah Rogers.
Every player on Chagrin's roster saw game action, Iammarino said.
"The field was very, very poor and I was concerned about the safety of our players," he said. "But our kids were determined to play hard and to play well."
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