Monday, September 26, 2022

Zygmunt shines in win over Richmond Heights

INDEPENDENCE–A short-handed Independence team slotted sophomore wide receiver Kyle Zygmunt into the starting running back position and did not miss a beat.

Zygmunt led the offensive and defensive attacks for the Blue Devils with four rushing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown, and an interception as Independence topped visiting Richmond Heights 47-8 on Friday.

With the win, Independence improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Richmond Heights showed great effort and flashes on offense but struggled with turnovers throughout the game and fell to 0-6, 0-3.

“We had a lot of guys out tonight,” Independence head coach Rick Adams said after the game. “We had Kyle Zygmunt at running back, which he’s been a receiver all year, so it’s a new position for him. He did a really great job seeing the holes. Our line, we had a couple guys on the line that had to step in, and they did a pretty good job tonight too opening the holes for him.”

The Blue Devils’ defense started off the game strong as they came up with three sacks and forced a 3-and-out on Richmond Heights’ opening drive.

Zygmunt opened up the scoring for the night with a 24-yard touchdown run on the ensuing Blue Devil possession.

Richmond Heights looked to respond after the quick touchdown but fumbled the snap on the first play of their second drive. Independence junior defensive tackle Sean Kuczmarski came up with the fumble recovery on the Richmond Heights 14-yard line.

After the fumble, Zygmunt carried the ball 12 yards positioning himself for a 2-yard touchdown run, pushing the lead to 14-0.

Richmond Heights moved the ball well on its next drive, but a second fumbled recovered by Independence halted the drive.

Zygmunt continued his dominant first half and increased the lead to 21 as he carried it in for a 15-yard touchdown run after the fumble.

“Defense did what we needed to do,” Adams said. “We didn’t let them make any really big plays. We got them in a lot of 3 and outs and did what we needed to do.”

Zygmunt made an impact on the defensive end as well as he intercepted a Kyler Rucker pass setting up the Blue Devils’ offense and the Richmond Heights 30.

Zygmunt took a Michael Tommer screen pass 30 yards for a touchdown on the first play after the turnover, extending the lead to 28-0.

After a 3-and-out for the Spartans, Zygmunt ran 20 yards and found the endzone for the fifth time in the first half making the score 35-0.

The Spartans moved the ball well again on their next drive but could not find the endzone before the end of the half.

Independence kicker Casey McGhee opened up the second half scoring with a 35-yard field goal that made the score 38-0.

Two possessions later, Richmond Heights snapped the ball out of the endzone for a safety. The Spartans were not going to give up as they recovered the ensuing free kick.

Kyler Rucker made a 22-yard pass along the sideline followed by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rico McPherson to eliminate the shutout. Rucker carried it in for the two-point conversion cutting the deficit to 40-8.

“It’s a lot of heart. We have a lot of young guys on our team,” McPherson said about his team’s effort in the loss. “It’s just been a crazy October for us. We got two people that are suspended, three people that are hurt. I’m just amazed about this team. It’s just heart.”

The Blue Devils found the endzone one more time on a 35-yard run by freshman quarterback Luke Pascarella as they beat the Spartans 47-8.

Independence hosts Lutheran West and Richmond Heights travels to Hawken next Friday.

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