MENTOR—Mason Sullivan scored four touchdowns and threw for another and the Kirtland defense shut down Garaway’s high-powered offense in a 43-6 win at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium on Saturday.
Garaway entered the game averaging 38.5 points per game but managed to score just one touchdown against the Hornets, who advanced to the regional championship game for the 11th straight season.
“It was amazing,” said Sullivan, who ran for 125 yards on 15 carries and threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to his brother Gage. “Everybody did their job, which was good. We were expecting a little better of a game but we executed perfectly, we did what we had to do and shut them down, especially the quarterback. He’s a really good quarterback.”
The Pirates, who closed out their season with a 7-2 record, opened the game with the ball and put together their best drive of the night.
Garaway recorded four first downs on the drive, including three on third-and-9 or more, but that drive stalled when the Hornets held on a fourth-down try.
“That was a good drive,” Kirtland head coach Tiger LaVerde said. “They came out and did a little stack thing that we hadn’t really seen on film. They did a couple of things we hadn’t seen and they worked. I think we just wore them down in the long run.”
The Hornets’ offense quickly went to work but their first drive ended with an interception at the Garaway 25.
It was all Kirtland after that.
The Hornets forced a Garaway punt, which went straight up in the air leaving Kirtland with the ball at the Garaway 26.
Four plays later, Sullivan scored on a 12-yard run that ended with him bull-rushing over a defender at the goal line.
The Hornets then blocked a punt and Sullivan scored on the next play to make it 14-0.
Garaway broke Kirtland’s momentum with a 51-yard pass play that almost was broken up near the 40. J.D. Young pulled in the tipped ball and raced into the end zone to cut Kirtland’s lead to 14-6.
Sullivan added a five-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
He opened the second half with a 38-yard run and Liam Powers closed out that drive with an eight-yard TD run that increased Kirtland’s lead to 28-6.
On its next drive, the Kirtland offense pulled a play out of its bag of tricks and scored on a reverse pass from Mason Sullivan to Gage Sullivan that covered 43 yards.
“We were practicing that for a little bit,” Mason Sullivan said. “I wasn’t expecting us to put it out this week but I’m glad we did. The coaches always wanted a Sullivan-Sullivan duo type of thing going on.”
Mason Sullivan ran in the two-point conversion to invoke the running clock rule. He added an 11-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
Kirtland outgained Garaway, 344-232, and held the dangerous Pirates to just 61 rushing yards on 21 carries.
“I think Danny Davidson and Joey Grazia playing man on their top two guys allowed us to put an extra guy to the trips and play a little zone over there. The guys up front kept their quarterback under control,” LaVerde said of the defense’s effort. “Having two guys that talented in man to man coverage is very helpful.”
Meanwhile, Kirtland ran for 301 yards on 41 carries.
“Moving on, we’re just trying to find some things that work,” LaVerde said. “They left some gaps there in the middle and we took advantage of it.”
Kirtland’s success started on defense with the front seven containing Garaway’s playmakers.
“They were a good team,” said Kirtland’s Carson Andonian. “Up front, they were pretty big. The quarterback was able to run and they have some good wide receivers but everyone just did their job pretty good. We shut down the run, shut down the passes. Our DBs did a real good job shutting down the pass and the guys up front got it done.”
Kirtland will host Canfield South Range in Saturday’s regional championship game. The Hornets beat South Range in the second round of the playoffs last season, 38-7.