June 27, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Grizzlies fall to Nordonia


Staff Writer

MACEDONIA —Through two games of the 2008 high school football season, Boliantz Stadium has been the land of opportunity for Nordonia.

In a tight non-league game against Wadsworth on Friday, the Grizzlies gave the Knights a few gifts and Nordonia responded with a 24-14 win.

Outmatched and outplayed for the better part of three quarters, the Grizzlies (1-1) found themselves still alive against the Knights (2-0) until they flirted with danger one too many times.

Nordonia, which caused seven turnovers against Tallmadge a week ago, was clinging to a 17-14 lead at the 6:17 mark of the final quarter when it was able to finally stick the dagger in a resurgent Wadsworth team.

Grizzlies quarterback Caleb Busson faced second-and-4 from the Wadsworth 42 when center Jayse Capello sent the snap just out of the signal caller’s reach.

The fumble – Wadsworth’s sixth of the game – was recovered by Nordonia’s Jamil Pickens on the Wadsworth 22. Five plays later John Hamilton (31 carries, 235 yards, 2 TDs) put it in the end zone from 9 yards out.

“We finally did something right offensively, had a nice defensive stand, got the ball back and were moving when it happened,” Wadsworth coach Greg Dennison said. “We made too many mistakes. We had a chance to stay in there, but they’re a good team. They’ll capitalize if you give them the chance. That’s why they win.”

That attitude came back out on the next possession, when the Knights forced another turnover, thus ending any chance of a comeback.

Without the use of wide receiver Anthony Schrock — the junior went out with a strained MCL in the third quarter — Busson (4-of-15, 114 yards) was forced to throw and John Spooney grabbed his second interception of the season, allowing Nordonia to salt the game away.

“It’s tough sledding when you come into Nordonia,” Knights coach Al Huge said. “You’re in for a dogfight every time you play here.”

Except for a 78-yard flea flicker from Busson to Louden Gordon in the first half, Wadsworth was outgained 207-15 through 24 minutes. The Grizzlies finished the game on the wrong side in plays (60-40) and yards (366-148) and were outmanned by a very physical offensive line and staunch defense.

Everything Wadsworth tried — except for the trick play — was met with a hammer, as the Grizzlies managed just one first down through the first two quarters.

The Knights had a 14-7 advantage at the break thanks to touchdowns from Zak Alders and Hamilton and were looking for the knockout blow.

But Wadsworth made a game of it when Bart Randolph scored his second 2-yard touchdown of the contest to knot things up at the 46-second mark of the third quarter.

The Knights’ Eric Vukmanic untied it with 7:18 remaining on a 24-yard field goal.

Nordonia, which had largely ignored Hamilton in the third quarter after a 140-yard, 17-carry first half, went back to its horse after that.

“It was just feed the beast and keep going hard,” Huge said. “He’s pretty good. I’m glad he’s on our side. Games like tonight typify how hard he plays.”

Hamilton played hard, picking up another 85 yards in the second half while putting the final points on the board in the fourth.

“He’s got speed and quickness and can make guys miss,” Dennison said. “When you’ve got a guy like that, he can make it hurt.”

Up Next: Nordonia (2-0) travels to Kenston; Wadsworth (1-1) entertains Medina.

Bournival may be reached at bournival929@sbcglobal.net or 330-721-4045.