Hornets stuff the Badgers

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Jake Neibecker

Kirtland scored touchdowns on its first eight offensive possessions of Friday’s Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division showdown at Berkshire, but it was the Hornets’ defense that was most impressive in a 60-0 win.

The Hornets held the Badgers to negative yards of offense and added a defensive score in the victory.

“We knew that we wanted to go out there and try to play a perfect game defensively,” said junior Jake Neibecker. “We wanted to eliminate errors, like where we line up and things like that. We did a good job and we were all just excited out there and when we all rally to the ball, it makes things hard on the other team. The whole defense just played with great energy tonight and it was a lot of fun.”

Berkshire ended the first half with four yards of offense, but the Badgers gained 25 on the final play of the first half.

By then, the Hornets had built a 48-0 lead.

Neibecker, who ran for 115 yards on just six carries, opened the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown run and Mike Zeuli added a two-point conversion.

“It was awesome to go out and dominate offensively,” Neibecker said. “We knew that we really needed to clean up our mental mistakes and we did a good job of that and that led to big success offensively early.”

Joey Torok then ran for a 25-yard score and Dylan Fulco threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Max Janas to close out the first quarter with a 21-0 lead.

Luke Gardner scored on a 4-yard run and Carson Andonian added a 5-yarder in the second quarter. Fulco threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this one a 7-yarder to Brandon Samsa, to increase Kirtland’s lead to 42-0 with 1:34 left in the half.

Louie Loncar then recovered a Berkshire fumble and returned it for a touchdown and 48-0 halftime lead.

Kirtland added two third quarter scores when Andonian punched it in from 1-yard out and Mason Sullivan ran for a 20-yarder with 19 seconds left in the period.

Torok ran for 58 yards on four carries and Anthony DeMarco finished with 52 yards on three touches.

In all, 18 different Hornets carried the ball as Kirtland rushed for 417 yards on 42 carries.

“We really started to put up a lot of points and that’s when coach started getting everyone involved in the offense,” Neibecker said. “It’s really nice to see all those young guys get some carries because I know when I was in that situation it was a ton of fun, so I’m happy for them.”

Berkshire ran just two plays in Kirtland territory, one after returning a kickoff 66 yards to the Kirtland 20 and the other after recovering a fumble at the Hornets’ 35.

The Hornets improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in league play while Berkshire dropped to 1-4, 1-1. Kirtland hosts Independence (4-1) on Friday while the Badgers travel to 0-5 Hawken.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.