PERRY—Something had to give on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
Perry entered its Homecoming game riding a 37-game conference winning streak while their guests, the Kirtland Hornets, had won 28 straight league games and 46 consecutive games overall.
The visiting Hornets scored a touchdown on the game’s opening possession and imposed its will the rest of the way in a 30-6 win over the Pirates.
“This is playoff-like atmosphere football,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “A great team, great atmosphere, nice, beautiful stadium, and nice turf that hopefully, we’ll have next year for our season. I’m happy. We graduated 20 seniors last year and a lot of these kids haven’t played in a lot of big games like this. I’m really happy with how they performed.”
Mason Rus was a workhorse for the Hornets. He finished with a game-high 161 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Rus carried five times for 33 yards on the opening drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ramon Lescano.
“That was a big drive,” LaVerde said. “A couple things that we worked on all week, they executed on that first drive. It was big to come out and get up right away and then I think we scored again, it was 14-0 pretty quick. After that, it was tough. Their D-line and linebackers, they got downhill pretty fast.”
Perry quickly moved the ball downfield but the Hornets held on fourth-and-five at their own 10.
After back-to-back punts, the Hornets traveled 75 yards in just over a minute to take a 14-0 lead on Lescano’s second two-yard touchdown run of the game with 34 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Pirates responded with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brayden Richards to Brock Sivon to pull Perry to within 14-6 with 8:59 left in the half.
Kirtland capped an 11-play, 55-yard drive with a 30-yard Johnny Raguz field goal. That drive chewed up 6:21 of game clock.
Lescano picked off a Perry pass near midfield and the Hornets moved down to the Pirate 18, but time ran out and the Hornets took a 17-6 lead into the locker room.
Any hope the Pirates had of swinging the momentum in their favor at the start of the second half evaporated with Gage Sullivan’s interception on Perry’s second play of the third quarter.
Following punts from both teams, Kirtland regained possession at their own 20 and drove 80 yards on 13 plays. Lescano scored on a one-yard dive with 9:32 remaining in the game.
Lescano completed a 20-yard pass to Tommy Gogolin on a second-and-13 to extend that drive.
“Ramon flat-out played a great game,” LaVerde said. “That throw he had down there in the fourth quarter on that (second)-and-long, was pretty impressive. He had some great runs and he runs the offense really well.”
Gogolin would add a 10-yard touchdown run with 3:25 remaining to close out the scoring.
Kirtland outgained Perry, 341-179, and won the turnover battle 2-0.
“If we don’t turn it over, I like our chances,” LaVerde said. “I can’t be more proud of these guys. Offensively, we didn’t turn the ball over and we didn’t have too many penalties. I was real happy with that. It wasn’t easy but they kept grinding it out. Defensively, besides one play on fourth-and-10, I thought we played outstanding. You win games against great teams with defense. Our kids know that.”
Rus didn’t find the end zone but he did contribute on both sides of the ball. In addition to his prowess running the ball, he made key plays from his linebacker position to keep the Pirate offense in check.
“Mason Rus is unbelievable,” LaVerde said. “Every time you look up, he’s making an unbelievable tackle, a two-yard loss, no gain; he is a special, special linebacker. But, the defensive line was very active and quick. They got in the face of that quarterback a few times.”
Kirtland improved to 6-0 on year while Perry dropped to 5-2. The Hornets host Lakeside on Friday while the Pirates travel to Orange.