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Tigers roar after having a week off

Staff photo / Brad Emerine Springfield coach Sean Guerriero congratulates Seandelle Gardner after the receiver caught a touchdown pass on Saturday.

NEW MIDDLETOWN — The Springfield Tigers prepared well in a strange off-week before entering the Division VI, Region 21 playoffs.

The proof came Saturday night, as the second-seeded Tigers dumped 16th-seeded Western Reserve for the second time this season, winning 35-7.

The hosts started quickly en route to improving to 7-0.

“Offensively, we can throw a lot of things at you, from five-wide sets to double-tights and try to ground and pound,” Springfield coach Sean Guerriero said. “When we got the 28-0 halftime lead, we did try to work on some things where we felt we needed more work.

“I’m proud of the kids because we got better in a week that was unfamiliar to us. We didn’t know how they would handle the bye week, but they obviously worked hard and it showed.”

Western Reserve quarterback Nick Cavoulas prepares to throw the ball during the Blue Devils' matchup with Springfield on Saturday.

The Blue Devils, who fell to 4-4, had a nice opening drive but it stalled out at the Springfield 40-yard line after a fourth-and-1 run by Russ Adair lost two yards.

Bo Snyder took an inside handoff, cut to his left and raced 60 yards for a touchdown on the Tigers’ first snap.

Springfield scored in all four of its first-half possessions.

“I was proud of our guys,” Reserve coach Jason Lude said. “I thought our defense played a heck of a game against a great, well-balanced team. We made them work hard with the exception of two big plays.

“They can run it and they can throw it and their defense is very solid, too. They’re going to be a very hard out in this playoff. I think the difference is that they converted a lot of third downs and we didn’t. Our defense was on the field for long stretches because of that.”

Springfield quarterback Beau Brungard capped a long, sustained drive in the second possession, scoring on a 3-yard run. The drive was 17 plays and 88 yards and consumed 7:13 and made it 14-0 with 10:10 left in the half.

The third drive was an 87-yard march in 10 plays, as Seandelle Gardner grabbed a pass from Brungard, made a cut on the sideline and scored to complete a 25-yard connection with only 50 seconds left in the half.

A personal foul penalty on the PAT was tacked onto the kickoff, as Clay Medvec set the ball on the tee at the 50. He dribbled an onside kick and recovered it. Brungard connected with Jakob Joyce for a 34-yard touchdown pass play on the next snap, as the Tigers led 28-0.

“We wanted to punch that first one in before halftime to give us some breathing room, but that penalty allowed us to try the onside kick at a good time,” Guerriero said. “We put that play in this week during the off week and the execution of that by the kids was fantastic.”

In the second half, the Blue Devils forced four Springfield punts. That matched the number of punts the Tigers had going into the conest.

“That’s a great football team that’s well-coached and they do all the little things well,” Lude said of Springfield. “That where we want to get this program to. We’ve got to do the little things. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. But I love the fight of our guys. They fought to the last whistle.”

The Tigers made it 35-0 early in the fourth quarter when Clayton Nezbeth scored on a 20-yard run.

With a running clock, the Blue Devils got on the board when Nicky Cavoulas passed to Brock Miller, who completed the 68-yard pass play by outracing a defender with 1:53 remaining.

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