EASTLAKE—With a 1-4 record, North had nothing to lose in its Homecoming game against visiting Riverside at Nick Carter Stadium on Friday and the Rangers played like it in collecting a 26-20 victory.
The Rangers attempted several onside kicks and were aggressive on fourth down in building a 12-6 halftime lead then held off the Beavers to collect their second win of the season.
“I’m so happy for these kids, especially with it being Homecoming, it was real special tonight,” said North coach Shawn Dodd. “We’re on our third and fourth running backs and I thought the kids did a real great job at stepping up tonight.”
Jake Tanski threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Brad Burrows on fourth-and-goal to give the Rangers a 6-0 lead with 3:44 left in the first quarter. That was the first of two fourth-down touchdowns North would score in the contest.
Brett Payne’s 61-yard second quarter touchdown gave the Rangers a 12-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first half but the Beavers made things interesting when Nate Sleek completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Michael Wojkowski with 17 seconds left before the break.
Riverside failed to convert the two-point conversion and trailed at halftime, 12-6.
Tyler Dodd’s third-quarter interception led to another Rangers’ touchdown, this one a 5-yard Tanski run on fourth down early in the fourth quarter to push the North lead to 20-6.
Dodd and the Rangers limited Riverside to just 52 rushing yards in the game.
“Our game plan was to stop the jet,” Tyler Dodd said. “They’ve beaten a couple of teams this year off the jet and they got us a couple of times last year on the jet. We really limited them and forced them to go to other options.”
Sleek threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Danny Smith to pull the Beavers to within 20-12 but Tanski ran for his second touchdown of the game—a 16-yarder—to once again put the Rangers up by two scores.
The Beavers scored again to pull to within 26-20 and were on the move again when Tanski made the biggest play of the game with an interception with just 2:10 left in the game.
“I was real nervous because if I didn’t make the catch, the guy might have caught the ball and they could have won the game,” Tanski said.
Tanski finished the game 12-of-16 passing for 107 yards and the touchdown. He also ran for 48 yards and two scores.
Payne led the Rangers with 77 rushing yards on seven carries Taylor Valletto filled in for his injured brother with 50 yards on 11 carries.
“I’m very proud for Taylor to come and step in,” Coach Dodd said. “Chase got injured; that knocked him out, and Brett Payne has been injured and got re-injured tonight. I thought Taylor did a great job of coming into the situation and just continually grinding out some yards.”
Burrows caught seven passes for a game-high 83 yards. He also led the Rangers with 6 ½ tackles.
Sleek completed 14-of-28 passes for 124 yards for the Beavers. He threw three touchdown passes and two interceptions.
North hosts Brush (5-1) on Friday while Riverside entertains Kenston (4-2).