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Canfield defuses Bombers to advance

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Chris Sammarone, left, of Canfield dives into the end zone in the Cardinals’ playoff victory over Kenston on Friday night at Canfield.

CANFIELD — The third-seeded Canfield Cardinals knew it wouldn’t be easy in their game Friday night. The Cardinals avenged a playoff loss to 19th-seeded Kenston from two years ago by knocking off the Bombers, 28-10.

The Cardinals improve to 7-0 and advance in the Division III, Region 9 quarterfinals next Friday. The Bombers fall to 3-3 on the season.

The Bombers’ 3-2 record was a bit misleading for a program that was just in the state finals a couple of years ago. That was something that Cardinals coach Mike Pavlansky was concerned about entering the contest.

“A lot of fear,” Pavlansky said. “We have a lot of respect for Jeff (Grubich), his staff, and their team. They are a young football team and they are going to get better. They played last week against a very good Marlington team and blew them out. We knew we had our hands full.”

Cardinals sophomore quarterback Broc Lowry knew his team has to have a healthy respect for the Bombers.

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Canfield's Oliver Kovass (17) steps in front of Kenston's Colin McCleery (2) to make an interception.

“We knew that they were not what their record showed,” Lowry said. “We knew they were a good team. Looking at the 2018 game, we knew they were reigning state champions. So, they knew what it was going to be like to play in a playoff-type atmosphere. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle the whole time.”

The key moment of the game came midway through the second quarter. The Cardinals scored a touchdown on a 4-yard run by Lowry in the first quarter, giving them a 7-0 advantage. The Bombers had a punt downed at the Cardinals’ 1.

On the next play, Lowry fumbled the snap and recovered the ball in the end zone — resulting in a safety and giving the ball back to the Bombers on a free kick.

The Bombers’ Carson Rivera-GeBeau returned the kick to the Cardinals’ 27. Following a 6-yard run to the 21, Bombers quarterback Nikko Georgiou had his pass picked off by Cardinals defensive back Oliver Kovass — preserving the Cardinals 7-2 lead.

“That was a big play by our defense,” Pavlansky said. “We have relied on our defense all year long and they did a tremendous job scheming up the opposing team. Oliver made a great break on the ball. He’s a heck of a player.

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Canfield's Broc Lowry (12) breaks a long run against Kenston on Friday.

“I’m really pleased with our defense. They only gave up 10 points against a really good team.”

The Cardinals carried a 7-2 lead into intermission, but they would assert themselves at the start of the second half with 21 unanswered points to build a 28-2 advantage.

Chris Sammarone scored twice in the third quarter. Sammarone had a 6-yard run with 8:09 left in the third and, almost 2 minutes later, he caught a swing pass from Lowry and headed 80 yards down the right sideline.

Lowry added a 17-yard run with 7:10 remaining before the Bombers added the final points on a 4-yard pass from Georgiou to Ryan Miller.

“I think our offensive line did a great job, no doubt about it,” Pavalansky said. “To put three touchdowns on the board in the second half, I’m real pleased with that.”

Correspondent photo / Michael Taylor Canfield's Mike Minenok (56) causes Kenston's Nikko Georgiou (9) to fumble.

Lowry appreciated the protection up front.

“My offensive line gave me time,” Lowry said. “The receivers ran great routes and coach Pav calling good plays.”

The Cardinals host sixth-seeded Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Irish (5-2) next Friday night. The Irish knocked off West Geauga to set up the matchup.

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