BURTON—How important are fourth down conversions?
Kirtland was successful on 5-of-6 tries while host Berkshire was 0-for-2 in the Hornets’ 39-7 Chagrin Valley Conference win on Friday.
“Those fourth downs, we’re going to go for it,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “We get in 4th-and-1, we’re going to take our chances. Tonight the kids ran hard. We executed and got the W.”
The Badgers squandered the momentum they got from stopping Kirtland on 4th-and-4 early in the second quarter when they failed to convert on 4th-and-2 at the Kirtland 49. The Hornets then drove 47 yards in 10 plays and scored on a Joey Bates 4-yard run to push their lead to 18-0.
Two plays later, Owen Loncar picked off a Gordy Cossick pass and returned it to the Berkshire 29. Owen Lewis connected with Evan Madden for a 29-yard touchdown on the next play to make it 25-0.
“I said at halftime the play of the game was at that point,” LaVerde said. “They had a 4th-and-4 around midfield and our outside backer Jeremy Davis came up and made a great play. He didn’t make the tackle but he blew everything up for us. That was a big stop for us because then we scored and they turned the ball over and we got another quick one. That was definitely the play of the game. They stopped us on fourth down and then we stopped them on fourth down and were able to capitalize.”
Bates got the Hornets off to a fast start when he scored on a 66-yard run on Kirtland’s second play from scrimmage. He finished the game with 144 rushing yards and two scores.
Berkshire responded with a 49-yard pass from Cossick to Will Blechschmid on the Badgers’ first play from scrimmage but a 37-yard field goal try bounced off the upright.
Lewis then ran for a 5-yard touchdown to make it 12-0.
Vinny Matticoli scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter and Lewis connected with David Allchin on a 50-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth to close out the scoring for the Hornets.
Berkshire scored a late touchdown on Kirtland’s reserves. Kirtland’s varsity defense hasn’t allowed a point in three games.
“They’re getting more confident I think every week and those young kids that never played before, they’re starting to feel it and understand their role and execute,” LaVerde said.
The Hornets outgained the Badgers, 420-176, and dominated time of possession, 33:12 – 14:16. Kirtland rushed for 315 yards to just 128 for the Badgers and the Hornets limited Berkshire's passing game to just 48 yards.
Kirtland improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in league play.
The Hornets host Independence on Friday.