WESTFIELD TWP. — The Cloverleaf football team spent most of the night pinning Division III, Region 9 playoff contender Ravenna’s back against the wall thanks to an aggressive and attacking defensive front.
However, senior running back Sonny Ray Jones II was able to make enough plays for the Ravens to survive with a 20-13 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division victory Friday.
Cloverleaf (3-5, 1-4) had been great all night on third and fourth downs in short-yardage situations, but Ravenna (6-2, 4-1) faced fourth-and-1 from the Colts 22-yard line with less than three minutes left. Jones took the hand-off and broke through the right side, racing to the end zone to put his team ahead.
It was the only lead the Ravens had but also the only one they needed.
“We always play this team really tough,” Cloverleaf coach Justin Vorhies said. “They play into our wheelhouse of what we do on defense. We were disciplined and made our keys most of the night.”
The Colts’ last chance came when Brody Stallings threw down the Ravens sideline for junior Sylar Jones, but senior linebacker Anthony Lunardi, who doubled as his team’s quarterback, stuck his hand in and ended the game on a pass breakup.
Prior to Ravenna’s last touchdown, the Colts had a chance to take the lead when sophomore Logan Tierney booted a punt that rolled 50 yards before being downed inside the Ravens 10. With the game tied at 13, Lunardi had to bend down to handle a poor snap on second down but managed to stay out of the end zone as end Ethan Sterling raced in for the sack.
Cloverleaf got the ball on Ravenna’s 40, but the drive quickly stalled. Facing fourth-and-6 at the 36, Stallings got the Ravens to jump offside to make it fourth-and-1, but immediately an offensive lineman was flagged for a false start to erase the previous penalty. Cloverleaf eventually turned over the ball on downs.
The teams battled through a scoreless first quarter, with great credit to the Colts defensive front. Seniors Jake Kemp and Dominic Romano and junior Connor Dudas all played roles in stopping short-yardage situations.
Cloverleaf got its offense going in the second quarter. Junior John Manzuk was held to just 3 yards on his first seven attempts, but broke his first carry of the second quarter for 51 yards to set up a 4-yard score by Stallings. A mishap on the snap of the extra point left it 6-0.
“We just needed to finish our little jobs, turning a guy one way, small blocks that needed to be there,” Manzuk said. “It just took us a little while to get going.”
Senior running back Christian Jones found the answer for the Ravens late in the first half with a 4-yard dive. Colts sophomore Blake Wilson blocked the extra point to leave the game tied.
After halftime, Manzuk gave Cloverleaf another lead. The Colts were backed up on their own 9, but Manzuk took a handoff on the first play of the drive and raced down the left sideline for a 91-yard touchdown.
After a short kick, Sonny Ray Jones (25 carries, 181 yards) went 58 yards on the first play to tie the game 13-13.
Cloverleaf now needs wins against Field and Streetsboro to reach .500 for the first time since 2009.
“We’re still fighting,” Vorhies said. “That .500 barrier is pretty big for us. It’s something we want to hit.”
Contact John Urchek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ravenna 20, Cloverleaf 13
RAVENNA 0 6 7 7 — 20
CLOVERLEAF 0 6 7 0 — 13
C — Brody Stallings 4 run (run failed), 8:47.
R — Christian Jones 4 run (kick blocked), 2:57.
C — John Manzuk 91 run (Logan Tierney kick), 5:37.
R — Sonny Ray Jones II 58 run (Ian Johnston kick), 5:27.
R — Jones II 22 run (Johnston kick), 2:47.