Poland-Struthers rivalry renewed
Bulldogs’ ground attack stifles Wildcats
By Matthew Peaslee
In an ideal world, Alex Hubbell would picture his Poland Bulldogs at 5-0 entering the second half of the season. Instead, they were 3-2 entering Friday’s tilt with Struthers, with the losses coming by just 12 combined points.
“We knew it was a must-win game, but by no means would it be an easy win,” Hubbell said. “They were going to try to do the same stuff we do, run it right down our throats. We traded blows and that’s what great teams do in a great game.”
A rivalry game.
Playing each other for the first time since 2007, Poland scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and defeated Struthers, 28-14, in the border war.
“The playoff points would be something we really need at this point, because they were 4-1,” Poland coach Mark Brungard said. “But really, it’s a backyard rival. Struthers and Poland have a long history and that means a whole lot more than anything else right now.”
The Bulldogs (4-2) took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a pair of fumbles that set up scores on two of their first three possessions.
Chris Wess of Struthers received the opening kickoff, but fumbled. It was recovered by Angelo Vardavas. Unable to score, Poland forced a Wildcat three-and-out and a 5-yard Mike Turnbull touchdown run opened the scoring.
Zach Bader recovered a Gary Muntean fumble on Struthers’ ensuing possession before Turnbull scored again on a 3-yard run.
“When we needed to make plays, we did,” said Hubbell, a defensive lineman. “Those earlier turnovers twisted the game a little bit and gave us momentum right away.”
The Wildcats (4-2) got it back in the second quarter with 14 unanswered points.
Poland running back Ross Gould broke the tie with 8:31 left in regulation. Appearing to be down at the Struthers 5-yard line after a modest 2-yard gain, Gould rolled off a defender and chugged over the goal line.
“I thought I was down, but I kept going,” Gould said. “I kept pushing, I had a linemen push me from behind and I didn’t stop until I was in the end zone and they blew the whistle.”
The junior finished with 127 yards on 23 carries. Admittedly, his best performance.
“That’s who he is,” Brungard said. “He doesn’t quit.”
Marlon Ramirez added a touchdown seven minutes later. The sophomore had 82 rushing yards and Mike Turnbull added 44.
“They ran the ball hard,” Struthers coach Curt Kuntz said. “Their offensive line did a great job and they had two good tight ends that did well all night”
So did a fullback, Gould said.
“Jake Aiello, you have to mention him,” he said. “He was awesome.”
Dave Stewart led the Wildcats with 127 yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Gary Muntean completed 15 of 24 passes for 142 yards and Tommy Kimbrough caught six passes for 60 yards.