Monday, August 15

    Independence wins big in postseason opener

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    INDEPENDENCE—Big plays played a key role in Independence’s 44-13 win over visiting Toronto in a Division VII, Region 25 postseason opener on Saturday.

    The Blue Devils capitalized on those big plays early in the game as they scored 21 points on their first four offensive plays.

    “We ran like five plays through the first quarter and a half, but it was just phenomenal,” said Independence coach Rick Adams.

    Toronto arrived at Alumni Field with a decided size advantage—the Red Knights have eight players on their roster who were 220 pounds or bigger while the Blue Devils had just two—but the Blue Devils didn’t flinch.

    After the Red Knights converted a third-and-14 to start the game, Kyle Zygmunt picked off a pass near midfield and returned it to the Toronto 20.

    Corrigan broke through the line of scrimmage and raced into the end zone on the next play to give the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead with 7:50 remaining in the first quarter.

    The Red Knights used a reverse on the ensuing kickoff and returned the ball to the Independence 22. Kam Baker then found the end zone to tie the game with 6:08 remaining in the opening quarter.

    That tie didn’t last long as quarterback Michael Tommer ran for a 31-yard touchdown less than a minute later. Casey McGhee’s extra point gave the Blue Devils a 14-7 lead.

    After Independence’s defense forced a Toronto punt, the Blue Devils needed just one play to push their lead to 21-7.

    Tommer threw a slant to Zygmunt, who spun out of one tackle and then dragged a couple of Red Knight defenders into the end zone to complete the 44-yard touchdown pass and catch.

    Another big kickoff return led to Dominic Bouscher’s nine-yard touchdown that pulled Toronto to within 21-13 with two seconds left in the first quarter.

    Zygmunt returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown but it didn’t count as a penalty set the Blue Devils up at their own 20.

    After trading punts, Tommer connected with Zygmunt for a 40-yard completion and then ran 12 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game that gave the Blue Devils a 27-13 halftime lead.

    Tommer completed 8-of-13 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He carried nine times for 73 yards and two scores.

    Toronto opened the second half with a failed onside kick attempt and after trading punts, Tommer threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Evan Beacher and then a 38-yarder to Rory Corrigan to push the Blue Devil lead to 41-13 with 6:26 left in the third quarter.

    Lucas Martinez picked off a pass and returned it to the Toronto 8 to set up McGhee’s 32-yard field goal that closed out the scoring.

    Toronto used the two big kickoff returns to set up both scores but Independence’s defense made the necessary adjustments and shut the Red Knights out in the second half.

    “They had two big returns but we’ll fix that,” Adams said. “They had size and their skill guys were really good too. We focused too much on their size and that let No. 2 and No. 5 and No. 6 get loose. In the second half, we made some adjustments and kept up the pressure.”

    Corrigan finished the day with just 29 rushing yards on seven carries but he hauled in two passes for 53 yards and scored on the ground and through the air.

    Zygmunt caught three passes for 123 yards and the touchdown and also returned two punts for 56 yards. Beachwood caught two passes for 20 yards.

    “Michael and Kyle are really connecting and Rory had some tough runs,” Adams said. “We got Luke Pascarella back too. I know we didn’t really get him the ball but it was just nice having him out there.”

    With the win, the fifth-seeded Blue Devils improved to 9-2 on the year and will play at No. 4 Dalton on Saturday. The Bulldogs, a 41-0 winner over Vienna Mathews, is 9-2.

    “It’s going to take a huge effort,” Adams said. “They have a really good running back and obviously they beat Norwayne last week and that’s a huge win for them. They’re a four-seed for a reason, so it’s going to be a battle.”



    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, 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, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the 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.

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