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Bombers crash Chagrin, 28-17
Bombers crash Chagrin, 28-17
By TONY LANGE
Not too many people picked Kenston to win. Many of the home fans were skeptics themselves. But that didn't stop the Bombers from beating Chagrin Falls, 28-17, on their homecoming gridiron last Friday.
It was the first time Kenston beat the Tigers since 2007, and it couldn't have happened on a bigger stage. Chagrin went into the game ranked No. 1 in Ohio's Division III and was riding a 20-game regular season win streak, while defending three consecutive Chagrin Valley Conference titles.
The Bombers (3-2, 2-0) now control their own fate as the conference favorites.
"That's a great team effort," Kenston head coach Jeff Grubich told his kneeling Bombers during the postgame huddle. "That right there is why we've been working our butts off since February."
Two turnovers cost Kenston 14 points, but the Bombers' no-huddle offense and stonewall defense simply outmatched the visiting Tigers (4-1, 1-1), who committed no turnovers.
Opening the game, Kenston drove 80 yards on 11 plays in less than three minutes as senior back Nick Lombardy ran in for a touchdown on a first-and-goal opportunity for an early 7-0 lead.
Kenston's traditional run-it-down-your-throat a few yards at a time offense was nowhere to be seen, and Grubich's two-platoon system now allows Bombers to get rest off the field rather than on.
That first drive was rough, Chagrin Falls head coach Mark Iammarino said.
"It was the first time we faced anything like that. You can't simulate that in practice, and so I was not surprised that something like that happened early," he said. "I thought we did a really good job of adjusting to something that we hadn't seen before."
The score remained 7-0 through the next several possessions as the Tigers faced fourth-and-14 in the second quarter and punted from their own 30-yard line.
A line-drive bouncer - the kind that coaches preach not to touch - ricocheted off the chest of a Bomber, and Chagrin's Joey Casarona recovered the live ball on the Kenston 34-yard line.
Four plays later, Jack Campbell ran for a 23-yard touchdown and the 7-7 tie.
Less than a minute later, Kenston returned the favor as rookie quarterback Darryl Richards scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run after previously completing a 51-yard pass to Joey Tomcufcik.
"Them being the No. 1 ranked team D-III, I mean that really doesn't scare us," Richards said. "You know, they have to put their pants on just like we do. It was just head on head, and they're a tough team, but we came out ready to play and ready to win tonight."
Chagrin drove 75 yards on the next possession but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Ed Shelley, and the Bombers led, 14-10, at recess.
In the third quarter, Chagrin tight end Lukas Sontich came up with a much-needed interception for the Tigers, who started the half three-and-out, and returned it 30 yards to the Kenston 5-yard line.
It was a pass Richards tried to force into heavy Tiger coverage.
Two plays later, Chagrin quarterback Tommy Iammarino put his head down and drove his legs, as he's known to do, and bulled his way up the middle into the end zone for the Tigers' 17-14 lead.
The Bombers weren't worried at all about giving up the lead, said Lombardy, who had some unfinished business lurking at that point in the game.
"That lit a fire, and we knew right there that we would be able to score at will and that our defense would be able to hold them when it mattered," he said. "We just needed to keep doing what we were doing."
Still down, 17-14, in the fourth quarter, Kenston capped off a 90-yard, 16-play drive with Lombardy's 3-yard touchdown as the Bombers reclaimed a 21-17 lead.
Chagrin Falls wasn't finished yet either as the Tigers drove 50 yards down to the Kenston 24-yard line and kept their offense on the field for a fourth-and-one opportunity.
Kenston defensive back Sean O'Connor met Chagrin's Campbell head on and came up with a game-changing stop for the Bombers, who took the ball over on downs.
Leading defensive lineman Ryan Snedeker said, "We knew that, if we could hold them, then our offense would get the job done. We trust each other. We trust the offense, and they trust us. We're just a brotherhood."
Inside linebacker Adam Gray said, "Well, our defensive model is bend, don't break, and that's exactly what did. We knew in the end we'd stop them."
Richards, Lombardy and the offensive line went back to work for the Bombers, who drove 53 yards down to the Tigers' 21-yard line and then faced a fourth-and-six situation.
Grubich gave the Bombers' offense the go-ahead with less than three minutes to play.
Richards got the snap, scrambled in the backfield, got wrapped up and slung a pass up in the air on his way down to avoid the sack.
Justin Abbarno came up with the catch and gave the Bombers' a first-and-goal from the five.
Three running plays, and Kenston faced a fourth-and-goal from the one.
Lombardy punched it in and secured the 28-17 win with 31 ticks left in regulation.
"That was great," said Kenston 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman Sam Coverdale. "I thought our O-line was bigger, stronger and faster, and I thought we had our guys in the right position that we wanted, and we just outplayed them. It's that plain and simple. It was a weight-room victory."
Kenston linebacker Andrew Soltay said, "I'm just proud to be a Bomber right now, to tell you the truth. This is just a great team to be on. The unity and the teamwork and all the effort that we put in, it's unbelievable, and it just pays off in the end."
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