MASSILLON: The sight of a Norwayne offense sputtering on the football field was pretty much nonexistent until Friday when St. Clairsville halted the Bobcats’ run at a second consecutive Division IV state title.
St. Clairsville seniors Dan Monteroso and Matt Kinnick led the Red Devils to a 40-27 victory in a state semifinal at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
“I just can’t believe it, it is crazy to think I am done with this team and I will never get to play high school football again,” said senior Jon Zimmerly, Norwayne’s top running back and linebacker. “It is killing me. I can’t stand it. We made a few mistakes, the fumble, the [two] interceptions, the turnovers, some slipups on D. Everybody just didn’t execute at our best. That is what the difference maker was.”
Snowflakes fell from the sky on a chilly evening in Massillon as Zimmerly spoke. Nearby, some teammates hugged one another. Other players hugged family members and friends who came to support them.
“Hold your heads up guys,” one Norwayne fan shouted towards the team. “You had a heck of a season.”
St. Clairsville (14-0) will play Clarksville Clinton-Massie (14-0) in the Division IV state final at 3 p.m. Friday at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
“They outperformed us across the board,” Norwayne coach Joe Harbour said. “They just did a great job of seizing opportunities and we didn’t. Our kids played with great, great effort and great passion, just not great execution. That was two really good teams and that is what happens when one team executes and the other team doesn’t.”
Norwayne (13-1) scored a season-low 27 points Friday after entering the game averaging about 52 points per game.
Monteroso, a Boston College recruit, finished the game with 10 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two interceptions from his defensive back position.
“He did a great job making plays and they are good across the board,” Harbour said. “He was a standout and he made a lot of plays. It is cliche as heck, but big players make big plays in big games and he certainly did that tonight.”
Norwayne had several passes dropped and also missed tackles the Bobcats usually make.
Kinnick completed 17-of-29 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns.
Zimmerly rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries for the Bobcats.
St. Clairsville led 14-7 after one quarter following a Kinnick 1-yard rushing touchdown and a 48-yard touchdown pass to Monteroso. Senior Brady Berger scored on a 1-yard run for Norwayne’s touchdown in the quarter.
Norwayne led 21-14 with 8:14 to go in the second quarter after a Zimmerly 2-yard touchdown run and a 28-yard touchdown pass from junior Joe Dreher to senior Richie Smith.
St. Clairsville countered when Kinnick scored on a 1-yard run and threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Monteroso to lead 27-21 at the break.
The Bobcats tied the score at 27-27 with 5:02 remaining in the third quarter on Zimmerly’s 14-yard touchdown run, but the Red Devils regained the lead with 2:54 to go in the quarter when Kinnick tossed a 76-yard touchdown pass to senior Jerrid Marhefka. Kinnick’s third 1-yard touchdown run of the game with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
Dreher completed 22-of-37 passes for 235 yards.
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.