Leasure, Toronto get the offense going
RICHMOND — Josh Franke told his Red Knights they were better than what they showed in the first half of Friday’s game at Edison.
His group heard the message loud and clear, and proved it with a dominant second half performance to pull away from the rival Wildcats, 48-6.
“That first half, it seemed everything was going wrong for us, in the second half, everything was going right,” Franke said. “We went in an halftime and said, ‘Guys, we are the better football team here. The score should not be what it is.’ They came out and gave us better.”
Edison (0-3) scored first following a pair of early Caleb Leasure passes being intercepted, but not again as Toronto (2-1) scored the final 48 unanswered points. The Red Knight lead was just 13-6 at halftime, but they exploded for 23 points in the third quarter to take over and finished with 35 points in the final 24 minutes.
“We’ve had to battle through adversity before,” Franke said. “That’s kind of the motto of this team — battling through adversity.
“You have to give Edison a lot of credit. They fought pretty hard. In that first half, they gave everything they had. That is football, there are highs and lows.”
Franke called it a message sending performance after Edison beat the Red Knights, 25-24, in Toronto last season.
“These kids wanted this game really bad,” Franke said. “We thought about this game every day for the past year. Every single kid on this field, even the backups, worked their butts off. It’s absolutely a statement win.”
All in all, Toronto put up 432 yards of total offense, while the the Wildcats mustered just 98 yards. Seven different Red Knights scored a touchdown.
“The more your offense plays together — we have a lot of different guys we rotate in and lot of different personnel groupings — the better they are going to mesh and more potent the offense is going to get,” Franke said. “Having (seven) guys score, that is a good night. We are distributing the ball and teams can’t focus in on one guy.”
Leasure shook off the early interceptions and threw for a season-high 233 yards and three scores, doing so without taking a sack. He got going with a 54-yard pass to Zack Stackhouse to make it 7-6 Red Knights.
“I think honestly that was just this game meant a lot to Caleb, considering he was the quarterback that played last year when we lost by one, I think he came out a little anxious and a little nervous,” Franke said of the interceptions. “He loosened up. We have faith in Caleb. We knew that he was going to turn things around. Caleb has put too much time in to be afraid to throw the football. I knew that wasn’t going affect him.”
On the flip side, Edison freshman quarterback Gage Cline finished completing 6 of 11 passes for 66 yards with a touchdown — a 7-yard toss to Logan Hanchin — and an interception playing in place of injured senior Noah Woods.
“I’m really proud of the way Gage played,” Edison head coach Shane O’Brien said. “He made a lot of nice plays for us, especially for being a freshman I thought he showed a lot of maturity. He grew a lot.”
The interception proved to be the turning point, though, as it occurred near the goal line on a fourth-and-goal. Stackhouse stepped in front of the pass, returned it to near midfield, setting up a 8-yard Leasure pass to Zach Berger.
“Anytime you have a turnover, it changes the momentum of the game,” O’Brien said. “It was definitely hard for us to overcome some of that.”
Leasure hit Frank Fulton for a 41-yard catch and run early in the third quarter, then the damage was done by the running game.
Garrett Dozier, who had another strong showing with 97 yards on 18 carries, plunged in from the 1, then, after an Edison fumble on the ensuing kickoff, JoJo Savage ran for an 11-yard score.
“We talk about finishing and putting together all four quarters, and the third quarter seemed to be where the wheels fell off a bit and things got off track,” O’Brien said. “The message is stay with us and keep working hard. We are going to face adversity, but it is how you respond that is going to determine the future.”
Savage added a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, then, with the running clock in effect and the reserves in, Aiden Mick broke a 31-yard scoring run to close the scoring.
“I really like the group of guy that we have, they are working hard,” O’Brien said. “It’s just a matter of getting some experience and putting four quarters together.”
Toronto: Returns home to host Beallsville on Friday night at Clarke Hinkle Field.
Edison: Travels for a Saturday game against Catholic Central at Harding Stadium.
(Grimm can be reached at email@example.com)
Toronto 48, Edison 6
Toronto 7-6-23-12 — 48
Edison 6-0-0-0 — 6
E: Hanchin 7 pass from Cline (kick blocked)
T: Stackhouse 56 pass from Leasure (J. Fulton kick)
T: Berger 8 pass from Leasure (kick failed)
T: F. Fulton 41 pass from Leasure (Stackhouse run)
T: Dozier 1 run (J. Fulton kick)
T: Savage 11 run (Stackhouse run)
T: Savage 1 (run failed)
T: Mick 31 run (run failed)
PASSING: Toronto 10-18-233-3TD-2INT (Leasure 10-17-233-3TD-2INT; Mick 0-1); Edison 7-14-66-1TD-2INT (Cline 6-11-66-1TD-1INT; Shrieve 1-2-0-0TD-1INT; Flenniken 0-1).
RUSHING: Toronto 35-199-4TD (Dozier 18-97-1TD; Savage 8-42-2TD; Thomas 3-15; Mick 2-32-1TD; Stackhouse 1-1; Matyas 1-7; Corrao 1-6; Francher 1-(-1); Edison 32-32 (Griffith 16-35; Marcino 3-5; Shrieve 2-5; Cline 6-(-9); Flenniken 2-(-8); Miller 3-4).
RECEIVING: Toronto 10-233-3TD (Stackhouse 4-104-1TD; F. Fulton 2-49; Dozier 2-44; Berger 1-8-1TD; Matyas 1-15); Edison 7-66-1TD (Shrieve 2-12; Hanchin 4-42-1TD; McClurg 1-12).
FIRST DOWNS: Toronto 14; Edison 8.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Toronto 11-98; Edison 7-80.
FUMBLES-LOST: Toronto 2-0; Edison 5-1.
PUNTS: Toronto 0-0; Edison 2-22.5.