MIDDLEFIELD—Kirtland ran for 331 yards and six touchdowns in a 42-0 win that spoiled Cardinal’s Homecoming on Friday.
Jake Neibecker scored three times while Ryan Lipps and Nate Fellinger each found the end zone once as the Hornets built a 35-0 halftime lead. Mike Zeuli added a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to close out the scoring.
“When we can develop our run game early, it’s huge,” Neibecker said. “Teams have to start packing the box, then play action starts to open up and coach always makes great calls that lead to some big runs.”
Neibecker capped Kirtland’s first possession with a 13-yard run then added a 9-yard score two minutes later to give the Hornets a 14-0 lead with 4:14 left in the opening quarter.
Lipps added an 11-yard touchdown run late in the first and Neibecker opened the second with a 2-yarder that pushed the Kirtland lead to 28-0.
With 4:27 left in the half, Fellinger, a freshman, scored on a 1-yard run. Fellinger suffers from severe ADHD and a cognitive developmental delay. He spent his middle school years carrying water bottles until he scored a touchdown in a seventh grade game against Chagrin Falls.
Now he’s got a varsity score to his credit.
“That was awesome,” Neibecker said. “I knew that coach wanted him to score, so when I had that open run to the end one, I decided to fall at the 1-yard line and get Nathan in. It was really cool because I know how much fun he has playing football and we love having him on the team.”
Zeuli led the Hornets with 101 rushing yards on just six carries and Neibecker finished with 79 on 12 touches.
Dylan Aquila was 6-for-6 on extra point attempts.
The Hornets limited Cardinal to just 37 yards of offense in the game.
“We wanted to come out today and show what kind of team we are,” Neibecker said. “I think we did a great job of that by coming out aggressive, playing fast and rallying to the ball.”
Matt Carney completed 6-of-14 passes for 32 yards and Luke Timas ran for 20 yards on three carries for the Huskies.
Kirtland improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division. Cardinal dropped to 2-5, 1-3.