• Dr. Herpy

First Home Playoff Win in Bombers History

Published in The Geauga County Maple Leaf
November 8, 2018
Brian Lavrich

The Kenston football team used its defense and running game to wear down Millersburg West Holmes in the fourth quarter as the Bombers defeated the Knights, 48-34, in a Division III regional quarterfinal Friday night at Bomber Stadium at Kenston High School.

Kenston (10-1), the No. 2 seed, advances to play Medina Buckeye (10-1), the No. 3 seed, at 7 p.m. Friday at Bedford Bearcat Stadium. The Bucks advanced by beating Alliance, 28-25.

After a season-opening 43-6 loss to Revere, the Bucks have won 10 straight and average 37.8 points per game.

Kenston started out hot as the Bombers took an early 13-0 lead. Quarterback Jon Tomcufcik hit Jay Middleton with a 31-yard touchdown pass, and Jack Porter scored on a six-yard run. Tomcufcik had a solid all-around game as he completed 12 of 18 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed eight times for 61 yards and two more touchdowns.

Kenston coach Jeff Grubich talked about his team winning the first home playoff game in school history.

“I’m proud of them,” Grubich said. “This has never been done. This is a young team with no playoff experience. I’m very proud of how they responded.”

The Bombers led the entire game until early in the fourth quarter. With 11:24 left in the game, Shane Jones caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Bridger Cline to tie the game at 34-34.

The following drive saw the Bombers go three-and-out. Nerves were tight as the potent Knight offense took the field with its first chance to take the lead since its first possession of the game.

But the Bomber defense had other ideas and forced its own three-and-out.

It looked like Kenston had taken the lead back when Porter broke into the end zone with 5:45 left to play, but the score was nullified due to a penalty.

A few plays later, Tomcufcik threw an interception and nerves returned for Bomber fans.

But the nerves of Kenston coach Jeff Grubich were fine.

“Relax, it’s OK,” said Grubich to his players. “Play the next play. We always say the most important play is the next one.”

Porter and the defense would not be denied. On the Knights’ first play after the interception, Dorion Talley intercepted Cline and returned the ball 40 yards back to the West Holmes 32 with 4:51 left in the game.

“The defensive coaches made a couple of adjustments because, obviously, what we were doing wasn’t working,” Grubich said. “We kind of scrapped what we were doing and went back to some base stuff. We put the kids in zone coverage and let them make plays.”

That’s when Porter took over. The Bombers fed their star tailback as he broke into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown run to give Kenston a 41-34 lead with 2:59 left in the game.

“The O-line helped push and create holes,” Porter said. “We outlasted them. They had a lot of two-way guys and were tired.

“The defense stepped up when we needed it. They played a heck of a game.”

The Knights took over, looking to rally, but the Bomber defense wouldn’t budge as Tyler Mintz broke on the ball and intercepted Cline’s pass.

Mintz had one of his biggest games of the season. Not only did he star from his defensive back position, but he led the Bombers with eight catches for 98 yards.

“There’s no way to describe this (feeling),” Mintz said. “I was just keeping my eyes on 24 (Jones). He’s a huge playmaker. He’s legit. I just broke on the ball. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Grubich was particularly impressed with Mintz.

“He’s a great football player and a great athlete,” Grubich said. “He’d run through a brick wall for you.”

A few plays later, Porter exploded for a 38-yard touchdown run that sealed the game with 1:28 left to play.

Porter had a huge second half as he finished with 208 yards rushing on 36 attempts with three touchdowns.

On the next possession, Matt Iklodi intercepted Cline for the third straight possession which allowed the Bombers to run out the clock.

Grubich was impressed with the defensive stand in the fourth quarter; he knows how prolific the Knight offense was this year.

“Heck yeah, we saw on film that they chucked it all over the yard,” Grubich said.

The dangerous Cline was 18 for 32, passing for 252 yards with two touchdowns, plus those three second-half interceptions. His two favorite targets were Jones, who caught six passes for 98 yards, and Grady Hay, who caught seven passes for 91 yards.

The Kenston defense held star West Holmes running back Cale Ogi to just 21 yards on 10 attempts.

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