GRANGER TWP.: Senior quarterback Bruce Kinsey and senior running back Alex Harris ate up chunks of yards on the ground behind an offensive line that got stronger as the game progressed, and Highland rolled past Tallmadge 49-26 on Friday night at home to remain undefeated in 2013.
The Blue Devils kept the Hornets within one possession for most of the game, but Highland’s rushing attack eventually wore down Tallmadge’s defense. Highland led 21-14 late in the third quarter before the offensive line began to generate a greater push and the defense came up with its biggest play of the night, leading to a scoring flurry — 21 points in just more than three minutes of play.
After Tallmadge opened the second half with a drive that took 7:31 off the clock but stalled near midfield, Kinsey put Highland in scoring position thanks to runs of 21 and 39 yards. Junior Nick Corvo then punched in a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 28-14.
Tallmadge, trying to use the passing game, went three-and-out. The Hornets tried the same and found success, as Kinsey hit his younger brother Coltin Kinsey, a junior, for a 29-yard touchdown pass to push Highland’s lead to 35-14.
Two plays later, Highland senior Cory Moncol intercepted Tallmadge quarterback Joseph Vassalotti and returned it all the way to the Blue Devils’ 2-yard line. On the next snap, Harris found the end zone to put the game out of reach 42-14.
“I think we just got in a rhythm,” Highland coach Tom Lombardo said. “Once we started clicking and made some big plays, we got into a rhythm and that’s how we’ve been rolling.”
Highland improves to 6-0 this season and 3-0 in the Suburban League with this win. In many years past, it was Tallmadge that played every Friday night with a target on its back as one of the league favorites. At 6-0, this season it’s the Hornets.
“Once you’re doing that [reaching 6-0], everybody wants a piece,” Lombardo said. “I told the kids afterward, nothing’s going to be easy. It’s a battle from here on out. You acknowledge every victory. They’re hard to get so when you get them, you savor them. ... Tallmadge plays hard. That’s a championship program for a reason.”
Bruce Kinsey threw for 240 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 15-of-19 passing and had 116 yards and a third touchdown on the ground. Harris finished the game with 108 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Coltin Kinsey led the team with 131 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
Tallmadge (4-2, 2-1) coach Joe Vassalotti knew containing Highland’s rushing attack was priority No. 1. But 250 total rushing yards later, the Blue Devils never could slow down both Bruce Kinsey and Harris. Eventually, the floodgates opened.
“We knew if Kinsey and Harris got loose on us, we’d have trouble winning,” Vassalotti said. “It seemed like their offensive line got stronger as the game went on. They were able to find holes and exploit our defense, which was probably getting tired because they were on the field a lot.”
For Tallmadge, Vassalotti threw for 211 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on 9-of-24 passing. Senior running back Bobby Clark also ran for 72 yards and a TD.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.