Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Hornets roll over Tigers

KIRTLAND—Kirtland got off to a bit of a slow start but the Hornets cruised to their 46th straight win by beating visiting Chagrin Falls on Friday, 42-6.

The Hornets, who improved to 5-0, opened the scoring with a 15-yard screen pass from Ramon Lescano to Gage Sullivan with five minutes left in the first quarter. Chagrin Falls (3-3) held the Hornets in check until the second quarter when the Hornets blew the game open.

“The defense was great–they didn’t give up a first down until the end of the game–and offensively we made some mistakes at the beginning but overall they did a nice job,” said Kirtland head coach Tiger LaVerde. “We completed some passes and we ran the ball well and we wore them down a little bit there at the end.”

Kirtland’s defense sparked that offensive surge.

Chagrin Falls quarterback Andrew Kirkpatrick threw a deep pass to Cole Ettinger, who appeared to make the catch but Kirtland defensive back Tommy Gogolin had other ideas and ripped the ball from Ettinger’s hands for the interception.

Kirtland’s offense took over from there.

Mason Rus, who was crowned as Homecoming king at halftime, ran for a 29-yard touchdown and Lescano picked off a pass on defense and then threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sullivan to push the Kirtland lead to 21-0.

Lescano’s nine-yard touchdown run gave the Hornets a 28-0 lead at the break.

Pierce Boyd added a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Danny Alfieri scored on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter that closed out Kirtland’s scoring.

Chagrin Falls avoided the shutout when Nicholas Vinci and Jackson Beavers connected on a 17-yard scoring pass and catch as time expired.

Kirtland racked up 382 yards of offense while holding the Tigers to just 38.

Despite their 46 straight wins and back-to-back-to-back state titles, the Hornets remain focused on their next opponent. Kirtland will travel to Perry on Friday in a highly anticipated matchup of two of the Chagrin Valley Conference’s top programs.

“We’ve just got to keep taking it one day at a time,” LaVerde said. “I know it sounds cliché but just keep working on the things you’re not good at and try to get better at those things. (Perry is) a great team and we’re going to their place. It’s going to be one heck of a ball game.”

The Tigers will look for a bounce-back win on Friday at Lakeside.

“They’re a great team, they have a phenomenal defense–there’s no doubt about it, but a lot of the mistakes that we made were self-inflicted and we didn’t give ourselves a chance,” said Chagrin Falls coach John Scott. “We hit a long pass and their defensive back just rips it right out of our kid’s hands; I mean it was just like ‘Are you serious?’

“In 23 years on the sideline at Chagrin and I’ve never seen anything like that happen to us before, but tip your hat to Kirtland, it’s no secret that coach LaVerde does a phenomenal job and these kids always come to play, and we made too many mistakes tonight.”

Matthew Grassi
Grassi, a 2010 Cleveland State University graduate, is a former Northern Michigan sports editor that has spent the last decade covering agriculture and agriculture technology for various B2B publishing companies around the Cleveland area. A Painesville native, he played varsity football and ran track at Riverside High School and played a year of DIII college football at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. He’s an avid Cleveland Browns fan and a devoted dynasty fantasy football and sports gambling enthusiast, and he still plays basketball with a group of high school friends every morning on the far eastside.

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