GREEN: Highland scored on its first five possessions and built a lead too large for Green’s passing game to overcome as the Hornets won 43-21 at InfoCision Field at Memorial Stadium.
Highland (5-3, 3-2) moved the ball at will early, finding the end zone four times and kicking a field goal for a halftime lead of 29-7. Junior quarterback Bruce Kinsey found the room he needed both through the air and on the ground to throw for 179 yards and four touchdowns and rush for 81 yards and another score.
“We mixed up the run and the pass really well, and we knew we had to do that,” Highland coach Tom Lombardo said. “[Kinsey] had a great game, and he’s improving every week. He’s a smart player. He wants it. We want to be balanced and we’re showing we can.”
The Hornets were about as balanced as you can be. Highland ran for 189 yards to go along with Kinsey’s 179 passing yards. Much of that started up front, where the Hornets’ offensive line had their way with a talented Green defensive front.
“Physically, they pushed us around,” Green coach Ed Cybak said. “They were physical and made things tough on us. It’s hard when you can’t get pressure on the quarterback and some of those things. They pretty much took it to us up front.”
Cybak said his team came out flat and talked about playing with enthusiasm at halftime. The message worked — Green’s defense forced two three-and-outs in Highland’s first two drives to open the third quarter, and senior quarterback Darryl Corrin found senior Seth Wieland for 30- and 35-yard touchdown passes (the duo’s second and third touchdown through the air in the game). That put Green down by eight points, 29-21, with six minutes left in the third quarter.
The enthusiasm just couldn’t be sustained.
Kinsey later caught Green’s defense, which had become overly aggressive, with a play-action pass and found senior Austin Adams in the corner of the end zone to extend the Hornets’ lead to 36-21. Kinsey’s 7-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
“Against good teams, when there’s so much on the line, you don’t have a lot of time to catch up,” Cybak said.
And there was a lot on the line for the Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2) on Friday night. Green entered the game ranked ninth in the computer rankings for Division I, Region II. The top eight teams make the playoffs. And this loss, combined with Nordonia’s 40-10 win over Revere, now puts Green two games behind the undefeated Knights (5-0) in Suburban League play with two games to play.
“This loss is going to hurt, no question,” Cybak said. “We’re gonna try to win our last two games and see what that does for us. It’s gonna be real tough.”
Corrin finished 15-of-27 passing with 305 yards and three touchdowns. Along with all three touchdowns, 189 of those passing yards went to Wieland. In their attempts to catch up, the Bulldogs only ran the ball for 20 yards.
Highland now has a slightly better hope at sharing the Suburban League title. The Hornets, also two games back, play Nordonia on Friday at home.
“We know for the playoffs, we have to win out no doubt about it,” Lombardo said. “We’ll give it a run. This is a good step and we’ll go back to work.” Highland was ranked 14th in the computer polls in Division II, Region VI.