YORK TWP. — Brock Waltz, Andrew Vaughn, Gabe Eaton, Chris Kane and Co. were tired of it.
The Black River seniors were tired of having no respect. They were tired of watching opposing offenses put up big numbers, and they were tired of getting lit up instead of bringing the fire.
On Friday night in a 28-6 victory over Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division archrival Buckeye, they put forth a performance they’ll remember forever.
Vaughn breaking the Medina County career rushing record was a side note as the much-maligned Pirates defense rose to the occasion in one of the biggest intracounty games of the year.
“Tonight we got jacked up,” Vaughn said. “We worked hard all week on defense. I mean, we watched film every day on these guys. I felt like we’ve practiced against them all year long because we knew everything that was coming.”
Black River (5-2, 4-0), which is tied with Keystone (5-2, 4-0) for first place in the Stars, held the Bucks (3-4, 3-1) to 3 yards on 20 snaps in the second half. The Pirates sacked Christian Petek five times and forced him to misfire on his final seven pass attempts, limited running back Cody Fortney (10 carries, 34 yards) to 13 yards over his last eight carries and virtually took away the outside running game.
Vaughn led the charge with an interception, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Waltz added 1½ sacks and nearly intercepted a screen attempt, while Kane, Eaton, Ryan Slone and Josh Anderson also snuffed out plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Black River surrendered 76 yards on 40 plays overall due in large part to defensive coordinator Ted Gordon switching to a five-man front. It was a far, far cry from Clearview putting up 60 points and 527 yards just 14 days prior.
The Pirates’ swagger is back.
“It does feel great — don’t get me wrong — but we’re taking everything week by week,” said Waltz, who also rushed for 42 yards and three touchdowns. “We’ll be partying this weekend and we’ll get excited, but when it comes to Monday we’ll get back to the drawing board.
“We knew we had them at halftime. Last year, we came out and gave up (20) points after halftime, and that wasn’t happening this year. I told them in the locker room, ‘This is our game and we’re not going to let them score in the second half.’ That was the biggest thing.”
Almost as stunning as the defensive performance, the complexion of the game was changed on a Black River pass — something Vaughn joked it hadn’t successfully ran in, “like, a year.”
Vaughn had reason to grin. Black River entered the play with 78 passing yards all season, yet nearly matched that total less than a minute into the second half.
With the Pirates clinging to a 14-6 lead, tight end Nick Sas ran a drag route underneath to catch the attention of the safety in the box. Vaughn then got separation on a skinny post.
The Waltz-Vaughn connection was the Pirates’ first completion in 10½ quarters, and it covered 70 yards. Buckeye’s Nathan Polidori made the touchdown-saving tackle on the 12-yard line, but Waltz scored on the next play.
“Nobody expects us to throw a pass, and they brought that safety up,” Vaughn said. “Coach (Al Young) talked about at halftime that play will be open and it was the first time we ran it.”
The Black River defense stood tall over the next 13 minutes, and a 16-yard screen pass to fullback Collin Filak on third-and-9 set up Waltz’s clinching score with 9:51 left.
It took longer than most expected for the Pirates to wrap up the victory thanks to the efforts of Buckeye linebackers Alex Wilk and Fortney, but Vaughn (season-low 131 yards rushing) made history on his 24th carry.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder took a sweep handoff with 6:21 remaining and carried Fortney for a 4-yard gain that broke the county career rushing record of 5,249 yards held by Wadsworth’s Dru Jones (2005-07).
“There were no secrets,” Buckeye coach Mark Pinzone said. “We just couldn’t stop him even though we knew what they were doing.”
The Bucks had plenty of chances to hang around despite the brilliance of the Pirates’ defense and the rugged running of Vaughn. Penalties and one bad shotgun snap were major reasons for their undoing.
The season-long outstanding discipline (county-low 18 penalties for 166 yards) went awry. Buckeye had three false starts, two illegal shifts, two holding calls and an intentional grounding en route to racking up a season-high 68 yards in penalties.
One of the holding calls moved the ball back 16 yards to the Black River 33 late in the first half and a low shotgun snap on fourth-and-5 cost the Bucks a chance to cut into the 14-6 deficit.
Buckeye’s score came midway through the second quarter when Polidori alertly picked up teammate George Rusinko’s blocked field goal attempt and rumbled 20 yards untouched.
“On offense, we couldn’t get anything started mostly because of penalties,” Pinzone said. “We just didn’t play very well on offense and couldn’t get anything going. Any time we did get something going, we killed ourselves.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black River 28, Buckeye 6
Black river 6 8 8 6 — 28
Buckeye 0 6 0 0 — 6
BR — Colin Filak 1 run (kick blocked)
Bu — Nathan Poldori 20 blocked field goal return (run failed)
BR — Brock Waltz 4 run (Andrew Vaughn run)
BR — Waltz 12 run (Vaughn run)
BR — Waltz 2 run (run failed)
First downs 22 5
— by rushing 19 3
— by passing 2 1
— by penalty 1 1
Yards rushing 272 31
Yards passing 86 45
Passes comp./att. 2/4 4/14
Intercepted by 1 0
Fumbles/lost 2/2 2/0
Penalties/yards 4/49 9/68
RUSHING — (BR) Vaughn 27-131, Filak 17-64, Waltz 13-42, David Bell 10-35. (Bu) Nathan Scott 3-36, Cody Fortney 10-34, Trevor Thome 1-5, Christian Petek 11-(-25), Team 1-(-19).PASSING — (BR) Waltz 2-4-86-0. (Bu) Petek 4-14-45-1.RECEIVING — (BR) Vaughn 1-70, Filak 1-16. (Bu) Jeff Susalla 1-32, Thome 3-13.