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North Gets Ka-Reemed Yet Again

    BY JEREMY SOMERVILLE
                    STAFF

(EASTLAKE, OH) - Willoughby South finished their perfect regular season in style with a dominating 44-7 victory over arch rival Eastlake North in front of 5,256 fans at the first ever Border Battle at Classic Park.

The victory over North is the ninth straight in the rivalry for the Rebels, who move on to the playoffs next week with a 10-0 record. The tough loss for the Rangers ends a disappointing 1-9 season.

North opened the game with what looked to be a promising drive, but failed to get any points on the board before turning the ball over to the powerful Rebel offense.

South took over on their own 18-yard line and marched down the field with an 82-yard scoring drive, that didn't go as many would have expected. With Mr. Ohio candidate Kareem Hunt in the backfield, the Rebels instead trusted the arm of senior quarterback Casey Klicman.

On the opening play of the drive, Klicman dropped back to find a wide open Rebel wideout, completing a pass that brought South from their own 18 to the Rangers 38- yard line. The Rebels would try two more passing plays before putting the ball in the hands of their horse. Hunt polished off the drive with three strong runs, the last of which being a four-yard scoring run that put the first points of the night on the board with South ahead 7-0.

North's next possession suffered the same fate as their first, and unfortunately for the Rangers, South's next drive ended with the same result as their first.

Klicman led his team on an 80-yard scoring drive that ended with another four-yard run up the gut and into the end zone by Hunt, his second score of the night, and 40th of the season. With 10:19 remaining in the second quarter South led 14-0, with Hunt being kept in check for the most part.

North's defense keyed the run for much of the first half, which allowed Klicman to lead his team to the red zone before Hunt finished the drives off.

South would add a safety and a touchdown pass from Klickman to Anthony Federico to extend their lead to 23-0 with 4:45 remaining in the first half.

It looked as if the experts were right and the route was on, but the Rangers were not giving up that easy.

With less than three minutes in the half, North finally got their offense clicking. The Rangers drove the ball into South territory and ultimately capped off their drive with a four-yard TD pass from Anton Vrebac to Ben Josipovic that put the Rangers on the board for the first time all night and cut the Rebel lead to 23-7, with 1:18 left in the half.

On the Rebels first play after the Rangers touchdown, Klicman completed a deep pass to Federico that looked as if it was leading to a one-play touchdown drive. However, a North defender managed to knock the ball away inside the five-yard line, returning possession to North with under a minute to go, with a chance to cut down the Rebel lead.

The Rangers failed to capitalize and had to settle for a 23-7 halftime deficit, knowing that the Rebels and Hunt would begin the second half with possession.

As the teams lined up to kick off the second half, everybody expected the Rangers to kick deep, but they had other plans. North went with the element of surprise and successfully completed an onside kick that gave the Rangers possession, still trailing 23-7.

Like their other chances to cut the lead, this one ended much the same way, in disappointment and zero points.

With North hanging around, it was only a matter of time before Hunt would have to take over for South, and on his first carry of the second half he broke the hearts of the Rangers as he scampered around the orange and black defense en route to a 54-yard scoring run that, after the two-point conversion, put south ahead 31-7 in the blink of an eye.

For North it was all downhill from that point on as five turnovers and Hunt were to much for them to overcome, for South it was time to coast into week one of the playoffs.

Hunt would add one more scoring run, this one a 14-yard rush, for his fourth score of the night and his 42nd of the season, putting South ahead 37-7 before exiting midway through the third quarter. He finished the night as MVP of the Border Battle, with 194 yards rushing and four scores. His 2508 yards on the season are good enough for 29th in state history.

All in all, a very good night for a very special player.

jsomerville@lakecounty-sentinel.com or Follow Jeremy on Twitter  @CleBrownsBeat
POSTED 10/26/2012  23:51










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