Hornets grind out win over Badgers

Kirtland Football

Kirtland ran for 373 yards and five touchdowns in a 43-6 win over visiting Berkshire on Friday.

The Hornets were just as dominant on defense in limiting the Badgers to just 122 yards of total offense.

“The team came out great tonight,” said Kirtland quarterback Tommy Powers. “Even without all our starters and for multiple guys to step up to the challenge was great.”

Berkshire got off to a great start when quarterback Jacob Brown threw two long passes during the opening possession of the game.

Brown completed a 25-yard pass to Jacob Young to set the Badgers up at the Kirtland 47 and after the Hornets stuffed Berkshire on a running play Brown then threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Ky Bowman for an early 6-0 lead.

The Kirtland defense dominated the rest of the way as the Hornets limited the Badgers to zero or negative yards on 23 of their 37 plays.

“On our first drive of defense, they got us on a long pass play but we bounced back,” said Kirtland senior Joey Torok. “We just had to focus more and then we did a great job of holding them. We’ve got to get better in practice and improve on the little things. Our defense can be very good as long as we just practice hard and get better every day.”

Torok ran for a 45-yard touchdown on Kirtland’s first offensive possession and Mario Rodin booted the extra point to give the Hornets a 7-6 lead.

Berkshire set itself up to respond when Young returned the kickoff 47 yards but the Badgers turned the ball over on downs at the Kirtland 17.

The Hornets took it from there.

Jake Neibecker ran for touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards to build a 20-7 first quarter lead and Powers through an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mason Sullivan and Torok ran for a seven-yard score to push the Kirtland lead to 33-6 at halftime.

“Mason made a great inside move and made a quick change of direction towards to corner of the end zone which gave me a lot of room to complete the ball,” said Powers, who completed 6-of-8 passes for 69 yards. “I have a lot of confidence throwing the ball right now mainly because of our great receivers and their ability to get open and our great linemen who are the reason I feel comfortable standing in the pocket.”

Torok added a 33-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He finished with 204 yards on 12 carries.

Neibecker finished with 74 yards on nine carries and 10 other Hornets combined for 95 yards on a total of 30 carries.

“The offensive line always does an amazing job,” Torok said. “Every week they get better and better. That makes life really easy for the skill guys.”

Brown completed 8-of-23 passes for 133 yards for the Badgers and Bowman finished with two receptions for 53 yards.

Kirtland improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division while Berkshire dropped to 1-7, 0-5.

The Hornets travel to Independence on Friday while Berkshire hosts Wickliffe.