MACEDONIA: Senior quarterback Bruce Kinsey is the first to admit he is not the fastest player on the Highland football team.
Kinsey is not exactly slow either, as he displayed Friday night in a Suburban League showdown at Boliantz Stadium between two undefeated teams.
Nordonia scored on the game’s third possession, but visiting Highland responded with several Kinsey runs and passes to secure a 28-25 victory before a raucous crowd of about 3,500.
“I am not very fast,” Kinsey said. “I rely on the read option from a great running back that the defense has to worry about, and great blocking from the offensive line.”
Kinsey gained 147 yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns to guide the Hornets (9-0, 6-0) over the Knights (8-1, 5-1). The win means Highland clinched at least a share of the Suburban League title with one game remaining against Cloverleaf next week. Nordonia finishes with Wadsworth (8-1, 5-1), whose lone loss is to Highland.
“This feels awesome,” Highland coach Tom Lombardo said. “I know it sounds cliché, but our kids have taken it one game at a time. We prepared for this like we have all the other games. We played pretty well and our defense played great for about 42 to 43 minutes, and then look out. That was a great third-and-4. We got that first down [on a 6-yard rush by senior running back Alex Harris] to seal the game.”
Nordonia junior Denzel Ward blocked a 36-yard field goal with 8:40 remaining in the first quarter and then intercepted a pass and returned the ball 10 yards for a touchdown at 6:11. Highland rallied in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Junior Nick Corvo rushed for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:34 to go, and Kinsey ran for a 6-yard touchdown at 3:52.
Nordonia senior Roy Rudder made a 35-yard field goal as time expired to make it 14-10 at halftime. Highland extended its lead to 21-10 on its opening possession of the third quarter when Kinsey broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run. The Hornets’ lead grew to 28-10 with 36 seconds remaining in the third when Kinsey tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to senior Cory Moncol, and junior Luke Allen made his fourth point-after-touchdown kick.
Nordonia cut a 28-10 deficit to 28-25 in the game’s final moments with two touchdown passes from junior David Murray. Ward caught a 24-yard touchdown at 5:44, and junior Alex Alders caught a 17-yard touchdown pass and senior Ty Hampton caught a 2-point conversion at 3:08.
“The effort is always there,” Nordonia coach Jeff Fox said. “We have a group of kids that are resilient. Realistically, nine games into the year, this is really the first true adversity they have faced. They responded a little bit late, but they responded. It is something that we can take from and build off of, but we have to play better. That is a great football team that just came here and took it to us for three quarters.”
Nordonia senior tailback Jordan Nobles did not play because of an injury, and he is questionable for the game against Wadsworth, Fox said.
Seniors James Friedl III and Jonny Zaz each had an interception for Highland. Juniors Nick Haas and Blake Phelps and senior Collin Paich were also active defensively.
“The offense struggled there a little bit in the first quarter, and the defense picked us up,” Kinsey said. “Coach Lombardo’s play calling took it from there and I’ve got to give credit to my linemen. Myles Houska, Tyler Gienger, Michael Doak, Tanner Ramey and Tyler Frederick were great.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.