September 2, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
70°F

High school football: Bulldogs grind out River win

STOW — The Stow football team grinded Medina to a pulp Thursday night and walked away with a 27-8 Northeast Ohio Conference River Division win.

The Bulldogs (7-1, 3-0) were in control throughout, dominating the trenches and eating up huge chunks of clock using their running game.

Medina’s A.J. Hoptry just misses blocking a field goal by Stow’s Garret Rigby in the first quarter. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

Sophomore running back Jayson Gobble (19 carries, 135 yards, TD) was the main culprit as Stow had 238 rushing yards on 47 attempts.

“We were able to establish a run game early,” Bulldogs coach Mark Nori said. “We knew we’d have to do that with the weather coming in and those types of things. We you can do that, we feel OK about it.”

The diminutive Gobble ran virtually the same play every time, taking a juke step left or right in the backfield and then trying to beat the Bees (3-5, 1-2) to the edge.

“The line just kept on their blocks,” Gobble said. “The receivers started to pull things down, and we just kept bouncing it outside every time because their defense couldn’t stop it.”

Gobble’s runs weren’t game-breaking, but they were frequently back-breaking as he converted several short-yardage situations.

“Field position killed us in the first half, and they just wore us down,” Medina coach Dan Sutherland said. “At some point as a team, we have to play a complete game.

“By that I mean offense, defense and special teams all have to show up. We haven’t really done that all year long. We have got to find a way as a coaching staff and as a program and as a team to come out and play a complete game in all facets.”

The Bulldogs held just a 10-0 lead at halftime, but came out and put together consecutive grinding drives to put the game out of reach.

The first came on their first possession of the second half. After a 44-yard punt return for a touchdown by Brian Groves was called back for a block in the back, Gobble took over.

Gobble carried six consecutive times and picked up all 39 yards to give the Bulldogs a 17-0 lead.

The feature back then got dinged a little and gave way to Groves, who set up Stow’s next possession by picking off Medina’s Collin Minor at the Stow 36-yard line.

Groves toted the ball eight times on the 12-play drive and picked up 44 yards before quarterback Andrew Wargo plunged in from a yard out to make it 24-0 with 11:29 to play.

“Coming out of halftime, they got the ball first, so it was important that we got off the field (one defense) and we did a good job of that,” Nori said. “At that point, our kids showed some resolve and decided we really need to move the football, eat the clock and we put a couple touchdowns in and did the job.”

While Stow marched down the field, Medina struggled to get much of anything going.

Fullback Ian Crowley had two big runs just before the half for 50 yards. Without them, Medina had just 4 yards of offense and zero first downs in the first 24 minutes.

Crowley was the lone bright spot, gaining 87 of his team-high 101 rushing yards on three carries.

“He’s just a heckuva football player,” Sutherland said. “He’s tough, he never gives up and he always gives 100 percent effort.”

Throw out Crawley’s long runs and a 20-yard touchdown run by Ryan Wehrmeyer late in the fourth quarter and Medina covered 16 yards on 25 snaps.

“Their front four completely dominated us,” Sutherland said. “They took us out of our game plan early. We seemed to be nervous after the first drive. Their front four and their linebacker (Matt Beech) is a heckuva a player, and he caused problems for us all day long. We couldn’t get to him.”

Contact Chad Grant at sports@medina-gazette.com.