MACEDOINIA: Football fans seeking a dramatic game were in business Friday night at Boliantz Stadium.
Blocked punts that resulted in a touchdown? Check. Missed point-after touchdown kicks? Sure, why not? Goal-line stands? That happened twice in one quarter.
Suburban League rivals Nordonia (6-0, 3-0) and Copley (3-3, 0-3) battled until the final whistle when the Knights were elated with a 35-26 victory and the Indians experienced frustration.
“This was a great team win,” Nordonia coach Jeff Fox said. “Copley is a well-coached football team that we knew would come straight at us, and they did. They gave us all that we could handle tonight. I am really proud of our kids for responding to adversity.”
The third quarter featured two goal-line stands with the Knights clinging to a 28-20 lead.
Indians sophomore Hayden Neal snagged an interception on the Copley 12-yard line and then returned the ball 85 yards to the Nordonia 3. Copley proceeded to run four running plays in a row and lost 2 yards. Seniors Gino Spadaro and Desmond Filey made the tackle on fourth-and-goal to force the turnover on downs.
“Our defensive line has been very stout,” Fox said. “Justice Alexander, Nick Bina, Tyler Zingale, Alec Camelli, Brandon Rem and Nyck Grayson, those guys have been playing well all year and they did a great job not allowing movement and making a play to keep them out of the end zone. All our kids played relentless.”
Copley forced a 3-and-out, and senior Will Thomas returned the punt from Nordonia’s 45-yard line to the 1. Copley got stuffed on two running plays and lost a fumble on third-and-goal. Senior Sterling Brabson forced the fumble, and junior Alex Alders and sophomore Tyler Soltis recovered the ball among a group of bodies.
“We battled through a lot of adversity,” Spadaro said. “That took a lot out of us.”
Nordonia opened the scoring in the first quarter when junior Justice Alexander blocked a punt and junior Noah Pennypacker returned the ball 8 yards for a touchdown. Senior Roy Rudder kicked his first of five extra points.
“I just did what the coaches told me to do,” Alexander said. “It was good coaching and I was at the right place at the right time.”
Copley countered with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Oliver Johnson, but the extra point failed. Nordonia built a 21-6 lead on a 25-yard touchdown run by senior Jordan Nobles and a 15-yard touchdown reception by junior Denzel Ward from junior David Murray.
Copley trailed 21-20 after two scoring drives. Senior Chance Jones forced a fumble, which senior Brian Reinke recovered and ran 25 yards for a touchdown, and Johnson ran in a 2-point conversion and rushed for a 23-yard touchdown. There was a block by Ward and Filey, though.
“I started to get a little nervous during this game, but defense wins championships,” Filey said. “Our defense held it together during the second half. We let up and allowed one touchdown, but in the end our offense came through. It was truly a team win.”
Nobles rushed for two other touchdowns (2 and 26 yards), and in between those scores, Copley’s Aalden Knight rushed for a 69-yard touchdown.
Nordonia senior Trey Lincoln snagged two interceptions in the second half.
“Nordonia was picked at the top of the league with Highland, and they are one of the top teams in our region in Division II,” Copley coach Ron Viscounte said. “Our kids came out and battled. We just talked about playing with heart and playing the game the way it needs to be played and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.