Franke gets first win with Toronto

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — It took a week longer than he would have liked, but Josh Franke has his first win at his alma mater.

Franke witnessed his Toronto Red Knights dominate both lines of scrimmage, while taking advantage of several Bridgeport miscues, en route to a 36-0 triumph at St. Clairsville Friday night. The Knights dropped their season opener against Steubenville Catholic Central.

“This means the world to me. Being the head coach at my alma mater and getting my first win, I couldn’t be any more excited,” Franke said. “Toronto means the world to me, so tonight is very special for me.”

Bridgeport, meanwhile, drops to 0-2. Coach Fred Ray’s young Dogs dropped a last-second heartbreaker to Madonna last week.

Bridgeport was its own worst enemy, turning the ball over five times, three coming on interceptions. The Bulldogs had several scoring chances in the first half, only to be stymied by repeated mistakes.

“We competed well in the first half. We had chances to score but kept making mistakes,” Ray said.

The first crucial mistake came in the later stages of the first quarter. The Bulldogs were looking to punt, only to have the snap sail over the punter’s head, with the Red Knights recovering the ball at the Bridgeport 35. It took Toronto all of seven snaps to reach paydirt, coming on a 5-yard sweep by Kobe Herrick. Caleb Leasure ran in the bonus points for an 8-0 lead with 2:31 showing in the opening quarter.

Bridgeport advanced to the Toronto 10 in the early stages of the second frame, only to turn it over on downs.

Later in the second quarter, Toronto set up shop at its 22 following a Bulldog punt. The Red Knights mounted a quick-striking six-play scoring drive, capped by a 24-yard pass from Leasure to Jess Fulton. The conversion run came up short, leaving Toronto on top 14-0 with 5:41 left before halftime.

The entire second half was all Red Knights, much of which was played under the OHSAA mercy rule.

Herrick’s 5-yard scoring run and Leasure’s conversion pass to Zach Stackhouse made it 22-0 Red Knights. Minutes later, Leasure scored from 10 yards out and then speared A.J. Clegg for the conversion and a 30-0 count. The Red Knight added its final score on the game’s last snap on a 32-yard run by JoJo Savage.

“We made a lot of improvement from last week. We had some issues at quarterback after losing Nate (Karaffa),” Franke said. “Our lines did a superb job tonight, and our defense really stepped up.

Karaffa was the Red Knights senior QB before being injured in the first scrimmage. He is headed to Ohio State on a baseball scholarship.

Toronto used seven ball-carriers to amass 206 infantry stripes. Leasure, adjusting nicely in his first QB start, completing 5 of 10 passes for 55 yards.

Bridgeport standout quarterback Tino Kusic operated under heavy Red Knight pressure the majority of the evening. He competed 7 of 18 passes for 138 yards. The Bulldogs gained just 48 yards on the ground.

“I told the kids that I am not upset with them. We are a work in progress,” Ray said. “You don’t change a culture overnight. We will get things turned around.”

Toronto heads back home next week, welcoming 1-1 Edison. Bridgeport returns to action a week from today when it entertains Clarksburg Notre Dame at the Dave Bruney Football Complex in Martins Ferry.

Toronto 36 Bridgeport 0

Toronto 8 6 16 6 — 36

Bridgeport 0 0 0 0 — 0

T: Herrick 5 run. Leasure run

T: Fulton 24 pass from Leasure. Run failed.

T: Herrick 5 run. Stackhouse pass from Leasure

T: Leasure 10 run. Clegg pass from Leasure.

T: Savage 32 run. No conversion attempt.

RUSHING: Bridgeport 24-48 (Addison 3-8; Kuneff 9-23, Kusic 9-7; Ray 1-(-7); Deaton 5-24); Toronto 36-206-4 (Stackhouse 6-40; Leasure 2-10-1; Herrick 10-39-2; Thomas 4-37; Dozier 8-46; Mick 2-12; Savage 5-49-1).

PASSING: Toronto 5-11-55-1-0 (Stackouse 0-1, Leasure 5-10-55-1-0); Bridgeport 7-18-138-0-3 (All by Kusic).

RECEIVING: Toronto 5-55-1 (Stackouse 2-1, Herrick 1-0, Fulton 1-24-1, Clegg 1-30); Bridgeport 7-138 (Ray 6-90, Jozwiak 1-48).

FIRST DOWNS: Toronto, 13; Bridgeport 9.

FUMBLES/LOST: Toronto, 1/0; Bridgeport 4/2.

PENALTIES: Toronto, 9-70; Bridgeport, 2-15.