STOW: The Norwayne football team continued its offensive onslaught Friday night at Stow.
Brookfield became Norwayne’s latest victim in a Division IV regional final that ended with a 49-28 Bobcats victory on Ron Marhofer Auto Family Field in Bulldog Stadium.
A crowd of 4,110 gathered on a cold evening to watch junior quarterback Joe Dreher lead the Bobcats (13-0) over the Warriors (12-1) with five passing touchdowns.
Dreher completed 27-of-37 passes for a school-record 427 yards.
“They had no over-the-top safeties,” Dreher said. “That means it is one-on-one with the receivers, and coach called the deep ball, so thankfully we connected on a couple of big plays.”
Norwayne, which is the defending Division IV state champion, has won 19 games in a row and 27 of its past 28.
The Bobcats had three receivers go over 100 yards and senior Jon Zimmerly rushed for one touchdown and gained 106 yards on 15 carries before leaving the game in the third quarter due to a hamstring injury.
It is an injury that has been nagging Zimmerly all season.
Bobcats junior Kaleb Harris caught for passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Brady Berger caught nine passes for 129 yards and a touchdown and senior Mitch Knieriem had five receptions for 103 yards.
“It is a regional championship and we are 13-0, and we are happy with that,” Norwayne coach Joe Harbour said. “Offensively, we are pretty happy because they are a high-risk defense, where they will catch you in stuff, but you can catch them in stuff. We are pretty content on offense with what we did, and handling the pressure for the most part pretty well.
“Defensively, we played a darn good first half, we just kind of fell asleep in the second half and gave up some home run balls, and missed some tackles.”
The Bobcats built a 35-7 halftime lead and upped their advantage to 42-7 with 8:19 to go in the third quarter.
The Warriors cut their deficit to 42-21 with 1:23 remaining in the third quarter, but got no closer.
Brookfield senior quarterback Jeremy Quinlan (177 yards) tossed three touchdown passes, two to senior Collin Harkulich and one to his twin brother Jimmy Quinlan.
Senior Ryan Mosora (108 yards rushing) accounted for the Warriors’ other touchdown.
Norwayne took control of the game when it scored on six consecutive possessions after not scoring on its first two drives.
Zimmerly opened the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown run. Dreher followed with touchdown strikes of 25, 70, 26, 2 and 19 yards in the second and third quarters.
“Joe did a great job, checking off and finding the right guy,” Harbour said. “Even the receivers, they did a nice job changing their route when they had to.”
Bobcats offensive lineman Caleb Barb fell on a fumble in the end zone and was credited with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:41 to go in the fourth quarter.
Barb joined seniors Zack Croftcheck and Cody Scruggs, junior Zack Weinmann and sophomore Chris Scruggs along the offensive line.
Juniors Brock Maxwell and Trevahn Beery and senior Richie Smith also made an impact for the Bobcats on offense.
“Our guys are working hard and our coaches are doing the right things day in, and day out to prepare us,” Dreher said. “We work hard 365 days a year.”
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.