A narrow 14-point win over Sandy Valley in the 2019 postseason opener didn’t sit well with the Kirtland Hornets, especially Mason Sullivan.
Sullivan ran for five touchdowns and a career-high 269 yards to lead the Hornets to a dominating 56-28 win over the visiting Cardinals on Saturday at Chardon’s Memorial Field.
“Last year, we weren’t prepared for them,” Sullivan said. “We never played a spread team before with such a good QB who could throw a mile. We prepared for them from last summer and executed great tonight, which brought us out with the big win.
Last fall, Kirtland held just a one-point lead before outscoring Sandy Valley in the fourth quarter, 13-0.
This time around, no late-game heroics were needed as Sullivan scored four of his touchdowns in the first half as the Hornets built a 42-14 lead.
He broke scoring runs of 73 and 68 yards in the first quarter. He added a 31-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
“All the credit should go to the offensive line,” Sullivan said. “They stayed on their blocks and did their job, which got me run throwing the gaps and make one guy miss.”
Sullivan entered the game with four straight sub-100 yard rushing efforts, but he was getting as many touches either as the Hornets steamrolled through the regular season.
Prior to Saturday’s breakout game, he averaged just over seven carries for 73 yards in his last four games.
“It felt great to finally go out there and show people what I can really do,” he said. “The last couple of weeks were quiet for me but I still tried my best on both sides of the ball with tackling and staying on my blocks.”
Liam Powers completed 7-of-9 passes for 119 yards with touchdown passes to Anthony DeMarco and Joey Grazia.
Tommy Gogolin added a two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on his only carry of the night.
Kirtland will host Sugarcreek Garaway in a regional semifinal on Saturday, Oct. 31 at a location to be determined.
“This season is basically like no other season,” Sullivan said. “I’m just glad we were able to go out there and play football. We are just playing this season like it’s no other.”