By Justin Haggerty
So the Bulldogs were clear favorites, and lived up to that billing by claiming a 20-7 victory over upstart Kent City in a Division 6 district championship game on their home field.
Ravenna, now 9-2 on the season, will host LeRoy Pine River in a regional game next Saturday at 1 p.m., with a berth in the state semifinals at stake.
The Bulldogs were again led by star tailback David Thompson, who recorded 208 yards rushing and two touchdowns on only 12 carries.
“(Advancing) is great for the community,” said a happy Ravenna Coach David Smith after the game. “That’s what small town football is all about in my eyes. The community getting involved, and the student body supporting the program. That helps your program and your kids and they want to play harder for that.
“It’s a great day to be a Bulldog.”
Ravenna raced to a two-touchdown lead on its first two plays from scrimmage.
On the first play of the game, Thompson rushed around the right end to the sideline and raced 79 yards for a touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion, the Bulldogs led 6-0.
After a Kent City punt, Ravenna got the ball back at its own 31-yard line. On the first snap, the Bulldogs called up the same play and Thompson sprinted 69 yards down the sideline for another Ravenna touchdown.
The Bulldogs led 12-0 with 8:24 remaining in the first quarter.
“It’s big momentum,” Smith said about getting the early lead. “In any game you want to take the lead, you want to jump on a team from the start.
“We wanted to take the ball (to start the game) and we thought we could do that and go down and score. When you have two physical teams that run the ball, there’s not going to be a lot of scoring.”
The other first half score came with 5:12 remaining in the second quarter, when Ravenna’s Tierstyn McBride pushed through the line for a one-yard touchdown. His plunge capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that gave the Bulldogs a 20-0 halftime lead.
Kent City opened the second half by driving 69 yards on 10 plays to get on the scoreboard. The drive culminated with Eagles quarterback John Meek hitting junior receiver Cody Bowers with a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The extra point made the score 20-7. But Kent City couldn’t get any closer against a stingy Ravenna defense, which was led by McBride’s 14 tackles.
The Bullldogs outgained Kent City 334-145 in total offense and 316-51 on the ground.
Kent City finished the season with an 8-3 record.
“You have to play four quarters and we played about three,” said Kent City Coach Bill Crane, whose team was competing in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. “I don’t know if we weren’t ready or if we should have done something different.
“We battled all year long. We didn’t have enough today in the tank. We’ve been down at halftime or in the first half in so many games that we’ve won, our kids weren’t going to quit. It’s a great group of seniors and I just feel bad for them.”