Nelsonville-York’s Perfect Season Falls Short

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Nelsonville-York gave the community a lot to cheer about over the last 14 weeks, but as the seconds ticked off the clock and a 44-0 state semi-final loss sunk in, the Buckeye fans stood tall and proud of their team as they gave the players and coaches one last standing ovation.

Coming into the game, Nelsonville-York had all the confidence in the world. For the Buckeyes, it was their first appearance this deep into the playoffs since 1982. On the other sideline however the Kirtland Hornets have made getting to the state semi-finals seem like LeBron James getting to the NBA Finals — Inevitable. They have made it this deep into the playoffs six of the last seven years and the Hornets had the “been here done that” attitude.

To start the game the Buckeyes were forced into a three-and-out on their first possession but grabbed the momentum right back when they recovered a fumbled punt. The Buckeyes however could not capitalize going three-and-out once again.

After a great Buckeye defensive stand forcing a missed 40-yard field goal by the Hornets, the game remained scoreless early on. Until after another N-Y punt, Kirtland went five plays for 60 yards and capped it off with a two-yard quarterback keeper from Dylan Fulco to take the 7-0 lead with 2:27 left in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes seemed to bounce right back. They drove the ball from their own 32 to Kirtland’s 20, but a Garrett Maiden fumble gave the ball right back to the Hornets. That halted the best scoring opportunity of the night for the Buckeyes.

After exchanging punts, The Hornets were driving but and on 4th-and-six they went for it. It would pay off as Joey Torok took it 39 yards setting up another quarterback keeper from Fulco. Kirtland was able to tack on a field goal as time expired in the first half.

The Buckeyes went into the locker room down 17-0 and hoped to come out and reclaim the game in the second half but the Hornets didn’t let up. Kirtland scored four more touchdowns and held Nelsonville-York to none, resulting in the 44-0 final score.

Jake Neibecker and Torok, both 1,200 yard rushers, were just too much for the Buckeyes. Kirtland rushed for 409 yards on the night. The buckeyes offense that was led by senior quarterback Garrett Maiden, who had thrown for 2,070 yards and sophomore Keegan Wilburn a 1,200 yard rusher himself was held to 146 yards of total offense.

The Buckeyes closed the book on what was an historic season and one for the ages. They will be losing a lot of key players from this season due to graduation but don’t sleep on the Buckeyes next year. They will be hungry and ready to get back to this stage once again.

Now for Kirtland, its season is still rolling. The Hornets advance to the Division VI State Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 2, to play Maria Stein Marion Local (14-0) in Canton. This will be a rematch from two years ago and the Hornets’ sixth try at a championship in the last seven seasons.