Nordonia football puts it all together to rout North Royalton

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia running back Shane Robinson runs through the hole during the Knights' game with Highland Sept. 18. Robinson ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns on just two carries in Nordonia's 62-14 home win over North Royalton Sept. 25.

Through the first four weeks of the season, Nordonia football was stuck in "glass cannon" mode, as is said in video game parlance.

The Knights' offense has been both balanced and unstoppable for most of the season.

The Knights' defense? Giving up at least 40 points a game is going to make it hard to win, no matter how good the offense is.

Knights coach Jeff Fox needed his team to play a complete game on both sides of the ball.

That game came Sept. 25 when Nordonia hosted North Royalton at Boliantz Stadium.

The Knights played nearly a perfect first half, blasting out to a 48-0 lead before coming home with a 62-14 win over the Bears.

Nordonia improved to 3-2, 2-1 in the Suburban League National Conference.

A week after its overtime loss to Highland, Fox noted his team had an excellent week of practice and wanted to put it all together.

"The kids were really motivated to put a complete game together," Fox said. "It was a great effort by the entire team."

"All the little things added up for us on defense," Fox added. "One thing coach [Tim] King said all week was, 'We have to do the common things uncommonly well.' The previous four weeks, we had a series of guys making mistakes. They had great focus, and it was a great team performance on defense."

The Knights put up seven touchdowns before North Royalton could respond.

"I though our offense was very efficient," Fox said. "It's a unit that is executing at a very high level."

After stopping the Bears' first drive, Nordonia opened the scoring with a 35-yard strike from Billy Levak to Matt Hayes with 8:45 left in the first.

Levak had an efficient night, going 9-of-12 for 173 yards and hitting four different receivers for touchdowns.

"He's doing a great job of knowing his assignment and just making good plays consistently," Fox said. "He's done that over five games for us."

The Knights took advantage of the game's lone turnover next, after Justin Harper recovered a fumble at the Bears 43.

Two plays later, Levak hit John Henderson with a 46-yard touchdown strike.

The Knights then stopped North Royalton on fourth down, leading to Levak's third touchdown pass of the night, as he hit Cooper Rusk for an 11-yard touchdown.

Up 21-0 after one quarter, Nordonia got its running game going in earnest in the second quarter.

Senior running back Shane Robinson only ran the ball twice for the Knights, but he scored each time he did.

His first touchdown came on a 54-yard run with 8:04 left in the first half.

Robinson later broke loose for a 64-yard touchdown with 1:01 left in the first half, as he picked up 118 yards on his two carries.

"He made the most of it for sure," Fox said. "Shane is a great running back. He's been one of those guys who's plays played primarily on defense at safety for us, but we have confidence in him running the football."

Between Robinson's runs, running back Sal Perrine ripped off a 60-yard touchdown run with 5:06 left in the half.

Perrine had a solid night, finishing with 11 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown.

Levak also tossed his fourth touchdown of the game  — a 28-yarder to James Neville — with 2:43 left in the half.

Reeling from the onslaught, North Royalton was able to break the shutout just before halftime, as Bears quarterback Mike Piazza hit Ben Pacholski with a 15-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the half.

Fox noted Nordonia already had its reserves playing.

North Royalton was held to 191 total yards, compared to 530 total yards for the Knights.

Piazza went just of 5-of-13 for 136 yards and two touchdowns, as he was sacked five times by the Knights.

Just to show they wanted in on the fun, the Knights' special teams opened the second half with a bang.

The Bears attempted a squib kick to open the second half, but Henderson scooped up the ball and broke it up the middle, returning it all the way for a touchdown.

With its reserves playing the entire second half, the Knights closed the scoring late in the fourth quarter.

Backup running back Zack Zender ran in a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:44 left.

With OHSAA's expanded football playoffs on the horizon, Nordonia will face a tough test in week six when it plays host to National Conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at Boliantz.

"They have some great players," Fox said of the Bulldogs. "We have a great challenge this week. We've had some quality games against them over the past few years."