By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
Madison’s dream season ended Friday night when it went up against what coach Tim Willis, after the game, described to his team as a “buzzsaw.”
That metaphor may seem trite, but it was apt. As good a season as the Blue Streaks had, and as good a team as they are, Glenville is better. And the Tarblooders showed that in a 40-7 triumph that gave it a Division II regional championship in a game played at Mentor’s Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.
“We needed to come out, and our kids needed to believe,” Willis said. “And it just wasn’t our night. We needed everything to be perfect tonight for us to beat that football team. It just didn’t happen.
“That is a very good football team, and I think if we played them 10 times, they’d beat us at least nine out of 10. I’m being honest with you.”
Top-seeded Glenville (12-1) will now face Highland in a state semifinal matchup. Meanwhile the sixth-seeded Blue Streaks (10-3) go home, but do so knowing that they went farther in the playoffs than any other team in the programs’ history.
The Tarblooders used the big play and a staunch defense to bury sixth-seeded Madison. They piled up 507 yards of total offense, 372 via the ground. More than half their yards came on six plays combined.
“We had guys in position; they’re just a lot faster than our guys,” Willis said. “They ran around them.”
Davon Anderson was the workhorse, with 27 carries for 220 yards. His 33-yard run boosted the score to 27-0 late in the first half, and he tacked on a 26-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds left in the contest.
Quarterback Quan Robinson Jr. had a 57-yard TD run himself, and threw for 135 yards and touchdowns to Treyvon Story and Devine Redding.
Meanwhile, the Tarblooder defense held star running back Brandon Davis to 24 yards on 16 carries before the senior left for good in the third quarter with a slight concussion. With the help of sacks, Glenville held the Streaks to two first downs and nine yards in the first half.
The Blue Streaks did finish with 167 yards and were able to get on the scoreboard, but could muster just 32 rushing yards.
Willis explained that his team’s inability to run the ball forced it to throw. However, he expressed doubt that that strategy would have worked if it had been utilized from the beginning.
The game was played with a strong wind blowing, which was one factor that worked against the pass.
“We felt we had to run the ball to win,” Willis said. “And we couldn’t run the ball. We just could not run the ball.
“They were bringing guys; they were bringing safeties. We had trouble running the football. So then we had to (pass). We had some success passing the ball, but if we would have started at the beginning doing that, I don’t ... it wasn’t in our game plan.”
Glenville grabbed the lead before its offense took the field when Terrell Goss blocked a punt and returned it 36 yards to paydirt. Moments later, Robinson Jr. broke his scoring run, with a key block from Marshon Lattimore, to make it 13-0.
Following a short punt, the Tarblooders tacked on another score when Robinson hit Story for a 17-yard pass on fourth-and-goal.
Anderson’s first score came 1:45 before the break. It happened one play after Lattimore took a pass in the left flat on third-and-11, reversed his field, and escaped for a 55-yard gain down the right side.
At the half, the Tarblooders had six first downs, but had piled up 247 yards of total offense.
Glenville extended it to 33-0 when it drove 84 yards on just two plays. First Anderson took it around the right side for 49 yards, then Devine Reddick took a short pass from Robinson and turned it into a 35-yard score.
Madison finally got on the board when Nick Law took the ball around right end for 9 yards with 3:45 left in the third quarter. The Blue Streaks moved the ball 31 yards after recovering a fumble which came moments after Madison was stopped on fourth-and-11 at the Tarblooder 20.
On their next possession, a 35-yard pass from Austin Burkholder to Thomas Purkey gave the Streaks possession on the Glenville 1, but the Tarblooders stopped three runs from the one before a pass fell incomplete on fourth down from the 4.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way these kids played all year,” Willis said. “I don’t know if we just ran out of fuel. That team — they’re very good. They’re a very good football team.”
About the only problem the Tarblooders had was with penalties. They were flagged 12 times for 100 yards in the first half alone, and finished with 16 for 120 yards
Madison’s Riicky Simcic also left the game with a neck injury, and teammate Jared Yoe hurt his hip in the game’s final minute.
“We were dropping like flies,” Willis said.
The Blue Streaks did force two turnovers to one for Glenville, with Jarrad Lasko picking off a pass in the second quarter.
A 42-yard pass from Burkholder to Aaron Petruccelli enabled Madison to reach the Glenville 19 before being stopped on its possession that came just before it did score.
“They were bigger than us on offensive and defensive line,” Willis said. “On our defense, our biggest guy weighs 195 pounds. You saw what they have.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.