RAVENNA: Kyle Spellman had a memorable Friday night.
At halftime, Spellman, a Ravenna senior, was named homecoming king after returning to play quarterback for the first time since the season opener.
Spellman ran for two touchdowns in the second half and threw for another as the Ravens defeated Norton 39-6 in a Portage Trail Conference Metro Division game on homecoming night at Gilcrest Field at Ravenna Stadium.
Spellman, who unofficially had 56 yards on eight carries and completed 8-of-14 passes for 74 yards, could not stop smiling after the victory and the coronation.
“It felt really nice and [I] had fun most of all. The line blocked well for me and the receivers caught it for me,” said Spellman, who broke the fourth metacarpal on his right hand earlier this season.
As for his ascension to royalty, Spellman said: “It felt real nice. I was real happy.”
Perhaps the happiest man to see the king return to his rightful throne was Ravens coach Jim Lunardi.
“It gives [us] a sense of relief; a sense of confidence with players in the huddle and with coaches,” Lunardi said. “There is a great command he demands in the huddle. We knew he was not going to be perfect. He played pretty well and there were some dropped balls out there.”
Big games are the norm at Ravenna. The Ravens have become perennial contenders both for the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division title as well as the playoffs.
It has been a far different story for Norton. The Panthers have been 13-37 the past five seasons, but have five wins this season.
The Panthers (5-3, 3-2) got a taste of the big-game atmosphere.
“The other team has more experience. Our kids are getting used to it, but things just didn’t go our way,” Norton coach John Tanksley said. “We did not play very well. We play on turf once every two years here and those guys [the Ravens] are a lot faster than you think they are on turf. The speed of the game catches up to you here.”
Things could not have gotten off to a worse start for the Panthers. On their first series, Colton Constanzo tried to get off a punt, but it rolled off his foot behind the line of scrimmage and Tavaris Washington picked up the ball at the Norton 10-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. Josiah Coman threw a 2-point conversion pass to Spellman for an 8-0 lead.
The ensuing kickoff by Spellman was squibbed and the ball bounced up and landed in the hands of Coman, giving the Ravens the ball at the Norton 33. Five plays later, Demetrius Fear ran 10 yards to the end zone and Ben Morgan’s extra point put the Ravens ahead 15-0 with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter.
The Panthers cut the lead to 15-6 with seven seconds left in the first quarter when Jon Cheatham scored on a 4-yard run.
The Ravens came right back with a six-play, 57-yard drive that culminated with Spellman finding Kyle Kornbau alone in the right side of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown with 9:28 left in the first half and a 22-6 lead.
Ben Morgan booted a 32-yard field with 3:23 remaining in the first half for a 25-6 lead at halftime. Spellman scored on runs of 9 and 8 yards in the second half to cap the scoring.
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