Those expecting a shootout between the state's two highest-scoring teams in Division VI didn't get what they bargained for Nov. 29 when the Ready High School football team met top-ranked Kirtland in a state semifinal at Arlin Field.
MANSFIELD - Those expecting a shootout between the state's two highest-scoring teams in Division VI didn't get what they bargained for Nov. 29 when the Ready High School football team met top-ranked Kirtland in a state semifinal at Arlin Field.
On a night when defense neutralized a pair of offenses averaging more than 50 points apiece, Kirtland got a 22-yard field goal on the game's final play by sophomore kicker Brad Hauptman to squeak past Ready 10-7.
Kirtland advances to the state championship game against Haviland Wayne Trace on Dec. 5 or 6 at a time and site to be determined.
Despite holding Kirtland to a season-low point total, Ready, who finish 12-2, had the ball for just 17 minutes, 33 seconds.
"That's their 'MO'," Ready coach Joel Cutler said of Kirtland's ball-control efficiency. "I thought it would be a little bit more low-scoring than people thought."
Kirtland, which improves to 14-0 and has won 43 of its last 44, was stopped for a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-2 from the Ready 4 with 4 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first quarter. The Hornets took a 7-0 lead on their next possession, as Sam Kukura ran for a 19-yard touchdown with 11:12 left in the first half. Two plays before that, Kukura took a handoff from Sam Skiljan and completed a 47-yard pass to Matthew Finkler.
Ready tied it with 56 seconds to go in the third quarter when quarterback Matt Yoho broke a pair of tackles near the line of scrimmage and ran down the left sideline for an 84-yard touchdown.
Kirtland was on its way to scoring on its ensuing drive, but Kukura fumbled at the Ready 11-yard line.
The Hornets took over the game's final drive at their own 40 with 2:11 remaining. Kirtland converted on three third-down attempts, including on an 8-yard pass on third-and-4 from Kukura to Finkler to move to the Ready 15.
Kirtland's Adam Hess ran for 10 yards on the next play to set up the game-winning field goal attempt by Hauptman with 3 seconds remaining.
Kukura rushed for 110 yards and one touchdown and completed all three of his pass attempts for 73 yards.
Ready punted seven times including on its final two possessions.
Kirtland limited Ready's Akili Taylor to 28 yards on 13 rushes. Yoho was held to 2-for-13 passing for 18 yards.
"We knew it was going to be a physical battle," senior two-way lineman Brady Taylor said. "It just wasn't meant to be. They're going to get it done next week."
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final KIRTLAND 0 7 0 3 10 READY 0 0 7 0 7
K--Kukura 19 run (Hauptman kick)
R--Yoho 84 run (Dulin kick)
K--Hauptman 22 FG