Kollyn Crenshaw took the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown as the visiting Solon Comets pulled away from Kenston in the second half en route to a 48-21 non-conference win at Kenston Bombers Stadium last Friday night.
The Comets also got an 87-yard TD run from senior Antwain Hamilton with 4:45 left in the first half to break open a close game, 24-14. On the night, Solon outgained the Bombers 401-292 total yards, including 260-120 on the ground.
“We knew coming in here we had a young football team and what I was afraid of would happen happened,” Kenston head coach Jeff Grubich said. “We gave up too many big plays.”
Hamilton and Crenshaw led the Comets with two touchdowns apiece, with Hamilton also scoring from a yard out just 14 seconds into the second half. Sophomore Zack Lesko set up the score when he intercepted a Parker Gdula (15-of-33 for 91 yards) pass on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter and returned it to the Bombers’ 1.
Crenshaw caught also caught at 67-yard TD pass on third-and-13 from junior quarterback Ryan Gallagher late in the third quarter, as Solon outscored Kenston, 24-7, over a 10 minute stretch.
Things looked promising for the Bombers early. After giving up a special teams touchdown to start the game, Kenston took over on offense at its 18-yard line. On second down, junior running back Jake Silbermann took the handoff from Gdula and threw a perfect halfback option pass downfield to junior wide receiver Jeremy Wyers, who outran Crenshaw to the end zone. Junior kicker Parker Deuley kicked the extra point and one minute into the game the score was tied, 7-7.
Less than 90 seconds later, on third-and-nine, senior defensive back Pedro Velasco stepped in front of a Gallagher pass at the Solon 32 and returned it to the house. Deuley’s second PAT game the Bombers a 14-7 lead at 9:39 of the quarter.
Solon tied the game on the next series when junior running back John Sensibaugh capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run.
The Bombers’ defense then came up big to keep the game tied. On first down from the Kenston 20, the Bombers fumbled the ball and Solon’s Darrein Jones scooped it up and returned the ball to the 4-yard line. But on third-and-goal from the 1, a bad snap moved the ball back to the 22-yard line and Keon Hemerlein’s 39-yard field goal try missed right.
Hemerlein, whose kickoffs sailed into the end zone for touchbacks all night, later connected on a 27-yard FG attempt to put the Comets on top for good, 17-14, with 7:11 to go in the half. He also split the uprights on a 45-yard FG attempt midway through the third quarter.
The Kenston offense was plagued with dropped balls and missed blocks, got a 40-yard TD run from Velasco (16 carries for 89 yards) early in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 31-21, but Comets scored the game’s final 21 points, all in the third quarter.
Despite getting outplayed in all facets of the game, Grubich said there were positives his team could build on.
“There are all kinds of plays we left out on the field. When we watch the film tomorrow, offensively and defensively, we’re going to see we were there to make catches and a couple of runs we were there, we just missed a block,” he said. “Defensively, we just had one guy get out of position and a big play hits you. If we can limit those mistakes, we’ll be alright.”
He added, “I just wish we would have finished a couple of plays. We had chances. I have to take my hat off to Solon. When they had their chances, they made them count.”
In his postgame speech, Grubich told his players they gave up too many big plays.
“They’ll kill you every time, especially against a good football team,” the coach told his players. “The good thing is, we’ve got nine more weeks to go.”
He added, “You just showed you could play with a Division I football team that’s probably going to go to the playoffs this year. And you had an opportunity to knock them out — if you finish the plays.”
Kenston had a demanding pre-season schedule — scrimmaging Nordonia and Bedford, and hosting a tri-scrimmage with Mentor and Glenville — but Grubich said the only way his young team is going to get better is playing the best teams.
“You play the best to beat the best and that’s what we did tonight. We played a very good Solon football team and we’re going to play another good football team next week in Chardon,” he said. “We got baptized by the fire tonight and we’ve got to get better next week.”
The Bombers (0-1) travel to Chardon Friday night to take on the Hilltoppers (0-1). West Geauga quarterback Connor Krouse ran a pair of touchdowns as the Wolverines (1-0) beat Chardon, 20-15, last Friday night.