PARMA: Highland hung in with a very talented Glenville team for much of the game, but the Hornets’ unprecedented run through the state playoffs came to an end in a 41-13 loss to the Tarblooders at Byers Field in a Division II state semifinal on Friday night.
The Hornets (13-1) aren’t getting a chance to play for a state championship next Friday, but are going home with the first regional title in school history.
Senior quarterback Bruce Kinsey guided Highland to a 13-13 halftime tie, but the Tarblooders (13-1) ran away from the Hornets in the second half.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” Kinsey said. “I poured my heart and soul into everything we’ve done. We just came up short.”
Glenville found the end zone four times, three of them on plays of more than 50 yards, to push the game out of reach.
Glenville senior quarterback Quan Robinson hit senior Marshon Lattimore for a 55-yard touchdown on the second play of the half to give the Tarblooders a 20-13 lead. After a Highland punt, Robinson found Lattimore again on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line on an out pattern toward the sideline.
Kinsey, in a desperation throw on third-and-11 in Glenville territory, threw up a pass that was intercepted by Tarblooders senior defensive back Erick Smith and returned 61 yards for a touchdown. Lattimore later added a third touchdown of the second half on a 56-yard touchdown reception with 8:40 to go in the game.
For much of the first quarter, it was looking like Glenville was going to enjoy a blowout win and put the game out of reach before halftime.
The Hornets’ read-option offense that Kinsey had ran to perfection through the state playoffs was being stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Highland moved the ball only 10 yards on its first two drives and aside from a few Glenville penalties, had only one first down in the first quarter.
The Hornets’ defense, meanwhile, looked completely overmatched. The Tarblooders went 39 yards on their first offensive snap and found the end zone on an 8-yard Davon Anderson touchdown run. Glenville’s second drive looked just as effortless and ended on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Lattimore.
Trailing 13-0, Highland faced a fourth-and-21 in their own territory, and the rout looked to be already in play.
A roughing the punter penalty, which resulted in an automatic first down, turned the tide in the first half. Kinsey responded to the new life with back-to-back 7-yard runs to drive deep into Tarblooders territory. Facing a fourth-and-1, Glenville’s defense again stuffed Highland short of a first down and again gave away a first down on a penalty, this time a facemask.
Kinsey cashed in on his third chance on the drive and hit senior receiver Cory Moncol for a 21-yard touchdown pass on third-and-15 early in the second quarter. The extra-point was missed, but Highland had life.
Then came a gutsy call by coach Tom Lombardo. The Hornets tried and recovered an onside kick. Kinsey eventually found senior Alex Harris on that drive, who snuck out of the backfield uncovered, for an easy 18-yard touchdown to tie the game 13-13. That momentum simply couldn’t be sustained.
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.