Kirtland ran for nearly 300 yards in a 53-19 win over Cuyahoga Heights in a Division VI, Region 21 semifinal at Nordonia High School on Friday.
With the win, the Hornets improved to 12-1 on the season and will play Mogadore for the regional championship on Friday at a location to be determined.
“We were prepared well and executed,” said Kirtland’s Rocco Alfieri, who carried six times for 86 yards and scored three touchdowns in the win. “The offensive line was dominating up front and opening up big lanes.”
Alfieri scored the first of Kirtland’s three first-quarter touchdowns on a 38-yard run. He added a 15-yard touchdown run a few minutes later and then notched the hat trick later in the quarter with a 14-yard run.
Cuyahoga Heights cut Kirtland’s lead to 20-6 with a five-yard touchdown pass from Fletcher Sturgill to Nick Armbrust with 9:39 remaining in the first half.
That momentum was short-lived as Will Beers returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown and then added a 27-yard TD run that pushed the Kirtland lead to 33-6. Danny Alfieri added a 34-yard touchdown run and MacGuire Boyd closed out the half with a two-yard score that sent the Hornets into the locker room leading 47-6.
Max Paul threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Noah Runyan in the third quarter to close out Kirtland’s scoring.
Francis Connors scored two third-quarter touchdowns a four-yard run and he caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Sturgill to narrow the gap.
Beers ran seven times for 58 yards and Carter Luzar added 38 yards on eight carries for the Hornets. Jake LaVerde completed 1-of-2 passes for three yards and Paul was 1-for-1 for 25 yards with the touchdown.
The Hornets limited Cuyahoga Heights to just 147 yards of total offense. Beating the Red Wolves 35-0 during the regular season prepared the Hornets for what they would see in the postseason.
“We were prepared for their offense,” Rocco Alfieri said. “We’ve seen it early this season and that helped a lot.”
Connors ran for 67 yards on 22 carries to lead the Red Wolves and Sturgill completed 7-of-13 passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
The Hornets now will prepare for a fifth postseason game against Mogadore since the 2013 season.
Kirtland is 4-0 against the Wildcats with regional final wins in 2022, 2018, and 2013, and a semifinal victory in 2017.
“I’m very excited to be at this point in the playoffs,” Rocco Alfieri said. “I can’t wait to go out there and show our dominance in this game.”