Toronto finishes what it started

CELEBRATING — Toronto’s Frank Fulton catches a toucdown against Leetonia on Friday. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

TORONTO — The Toronto football team was finally able to finish off its second win of the season.

Toronto and Leetonia both scored 14 points in the second half, but the Bears could not overcome their 14-point deficit to the Red Knights as Toronto came away with a 28-14 victory in an Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at Clarke Hinkle Field.

The game began at 7 p.m. on Friday and took 19 hours to complete. It was suspended due to lightning at 8:34 p.m. Friday after multiple delays during halftime before being resumed at 1 p.m. Saturday. The actual time of the game was just under two hours.

Leading 14-0 to start the third quarter, the Red Knights drove right down the field for a touchdown to make it a three-score game. Coaches say the first drive of the second half is the most important one of the game, and the drive proved to be a big one.

“Absolutely,” first-year Toronto (2-3, 1-1 in the EOAC) head coach Josh Franke said. “We started with the momentum right off of the bat. We were able to make it a three-score game. We started the way we left off (Friday) night.”

The Red Knights converted a key third down to keep the drive alive as a quarterback run resulted in a gain of 24 on third-and-17.

“You have to give them credit,” first-year Leetonia (3-2, 0-2) head coach Paul Hulea said. “They saw something we did in our coverage. They were able to exploit it, and they made a play.

“We played a lot better (Saturday) than we did (Friday). Our defense played well the entire game. They are a good team.”

Toronto totaled 265 yards of offense in the game, while Leetonia tallied 163 — 86 of which came on two plays that resulted in touchdowns in the second half.

“We talked to the kids about coming out and having the same momentum we left with (Friday) night,” Franke said. “That is hard to do. That is asking a lot out of these kids coming back on Saturday afternoon where they are not use to playing.”

Caleb Leasure completed 10 of 14 passes for 122 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Red Knights, while Isaac Miller completed his only pass for 18 yards on a fake punt Friday night.

Zach Stackhouse, who had the big third-down conversion run, ran eight times for 59 yards. Kobe Herrick recorded 57 yards on 13 carries, and Garrett Dozier delivered 40 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. A.J. Cegg collected two receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown. Dozier added two catches for 25 yards, and Stackhouse snagged two receptions for 24 yards.

For the Bears, quarterback Brock Simpson completed 4 of 10 passes for 58 yards, while also throwing one touchdown and one interception. Marco Ferry led the way on the ground with 87 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Ferry also scored on a 36-yard reception.

Dozier capped the opening drive of the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run, and Stackhouse ran for his second two-point conversion of the game to give the Red Knights a 22-0 lead with 8:20 remaining in the quarter.

Leetonia tallied its first touchdown on a 50-yard run by Ferry, and Eli Duke booted the extra point to make the score 22-7 with 4:13 left in the third.

The Red Knights extended their advantage to three scores when Clegg caught a 14-yard touchdown from Leasure. A bad snap resulted in Toronto having to try and run for the conversion. Kicker Trent Wright pitched the ball to holder Stackhouse, who ran all the way across the field before being stopped just short of the pylon, keeping the score at 28-7 with 8:37 remaining in the game.

The Bears answered with a touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Simpson to Ferry, and Duke’s PAT split the uprights, making the score 28-14 with 4:49 remaining. Leetonia did not get any closer.

The Bears made some big plays in the second half, but they did not make enough of them. Leetonia also had an interception wiped away due to a pass interference penalty Friday night.

Both teams had to adjust to playing Saturday afternoon.

“I chalk that up to the kids not being used to playing on Saturday afternoon,” Franke said about Leetonia’s big plays in the second half. “It is typically one of their days off. We are used to playing Friday night. We are creatures of habit. We are used to playing on Friday night when the band is here and when the cheerleaders are here.”

Toronto opened the scoring less than four minutes into the second quarter when Frank Fulton hauled in a 12-yard touchdown reception from Leasure to make the score 6-0. After a bad snap, Stackhouse ran in for the two-point conversion, giving the Red Knights an 8-0 lead with 8:35 remaining in the second.

The Red Knights extended their advantage when Dozier ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown to increase Toronto’s lead to 14-0 with 2:50 left before halftime. There was another bad snap on the conversion try, and the attempted run for two failed.

The win was the Red Knights’ first against an EOAC opponent since defeating the Bears, 40-7, in Week 5 last year at Leetonia. Toronto had lost six-straight conference games since that win after beginning conference play with two-straight victories.

“It is nice to get a conference win,” Franke said. “This is our last year in the conference, and we want to finish strong.”

Toronto will play at Columbiana (2-3, 2-0). The Clippers defeated the Red Knights, 42-7, last season at Toronto. Columbiana began the season with three-straight losses to Western Reserve (5-0), McDonald (5-0) and Springfield (4-1) before picking up wins against Leetonia and United in the last two weeks.

Toronto 28, Leetonia 14

Leetonia 0 0 7 7 — 14

Toronto 0 14 8 6 — 28

TORONTO: F. Fulton 15 pass from Leasure (Stackhouse run)

TORONTO: Dozier 12 run (run fail)

TORONTO: Dozier 1 run (Stackhouse run)

LEETONIA: Ferry 50 run (Duke kick)

TORONTO: Clegg 14 pass from Leasure (run fail)

LEETONIA: Ferry 36 pass from Simpson (Duke kick)

RUSHING: Leetonia 32-105-1 (Ferry 21-87-1; Simpson 9-11; Durick 2-7); Toronto 38-125-2 (Leasure 7-(-39); Dozier 7-40-2; Herrick 13-57; Thomas 3-2; Stackhouse 8-59)

PASSING: Leetonia 4-10-58-1-1 (all by Simpson); Toronto 11-16-140-2-1 (Leasure 10-14-122-2-1; Miller 1-1-18-0-0; Stackhouse 0-1-0-0-0)

RECEIVING: Leetonia 4-58-1 (Ferry 1-36-1; Waterbeck 2-22; Durick 1-0); Toronto 11-116-2 (Herrick 2-23; Thomas 1-18; F. Fulton 1-12-1; Dozier 2-25; J. Fulton 1-3; Clegg 2-35-1; Stackhouse 2-24)

FIRST DOWNS: Leetonia 7; Toronto 16

PENALTIES-YARDS: Leetonia 4-49; Toronto 7-50

PUNTS-AVERAGE: Leetonia 3-20; Toronto 1-50

FUMBLES-LOST: Leetonia 3-1; Toronto 4-2