Kline leads Knights past Calvert

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Calvert running back Austin Jones breaks away from the Crestview defense for a touchdown Saturday in Tiffin.

The motivation was internal and personal. The external results were remarkable.

Convoy Crestview quarterback Drew Kline piled up 404 yards in total offense in the first half alone and was a catalyst throughout in sparking the Knights to a 54-20 win over Calvert in a Division VII quarterfinal playoff game at Frost-Kalnow Stadium Saturday night.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Kline eluded Seneca defenders throughout the night while rushing for 226 yards and four touchdowns and hitting 7-of-8 passes for 190 yards and another score for the Knights, who will take an 8-3 record into next week’s semifinal against Arlington. The Red Devils advanced with a 21-19 decision of Lucas Saturday.

“Drew is a special kid and he unfortunately had a death in his family (an uncle) yesterday,” Knight coach Jared Owens said. “Emotionally, I wasn’t sure where he’d be today, but his faith in God is really strong.

“I told him before the game that Brett Favre had his dad pass away right before a Monday night football game and he came out and lit the world on fire,” Owens said. “I told him there was no reason why you can’t do that, too.”

He started doing it 52 seconds into the game by ripping off a 71-yard touchdown run. And he didn’t stop until the Knights had built a 34-0  lead with 2:36 still to play in the first half.Actually, the first six minutes of the game were crucial.

After Kline staked his team to a 7-0 lead, the Senecas countered with a drive, highlighted by Park Hemminger’s 48-yard pass to Corbin Kantner, before stalling on the Crestview 22. Drew Ronski’s 40-yard field goal try had the distance, but was ruled to have been wide right.

Then, on the first snap, Kline hit Chad Clark for an 80-yard touchdown pass for a 13-0 advantage with 6:23 still showing on the first period clock.

“I think the first (score) was a big one and then we were able to get a stop after a long play there for them – and that was huge, momentum-wise,” Owens said. “And then to come back with a long pass right after that, I think things started to snowball a little after that.”

“It’s something we didn’t want to happen, obviously,” Calvert coach Todd Fox said of Crestview’s fast start. “But I’ll be honest, I don’t think it took the wind out of our sails or anything like that. “That’s something I’m really proud with our team. We have a great group of young men who worked hard and handled adversity amazingly.”

Payton Knittle’s fumble recovery had the Knights in business again, but Nick Krajewski intercepted a tipped Kline pass to turn it back for the Senecas.

But the Knights kept pressure on the Calvert offense, forced a couple punts and added two more scores. The first came on Kline’s 14-yard run to cap a six-play, 62-yard drive and the second was a 66-yard sprint by Kline for a 27-0 edge.

“We’ve been trying to get them to sharpen up their execution and tonight, the execution was really sharp up front, blocking-wise,” Owens said. “Calvert is very aggressive on defense and sometimes, we were getting stopped at the point of attack for little or no gain. But we were able to take advantage of some of that with some misdirection.”

The Knights were seemingly on their way to another score on their next possession, but Robby Paul poked the ball away from Kline near the goal line and Zach Conn recovered in the end zone for a Calvert touchback.

Still, Crestview in general and Kline in particular kept coming. The slick sophomore scooted in from 17 yards out a short time later to make it 34-0.

“I can’t compare him to anyone,” Fox said in praising Kline. ‘He’s a back that you just can’t get your hands on him. He’s an amazing young man and he’s only a sophomore, so unfortunately, he’s going to be on the radar for a couple more years.

The Senecas got on the board for the first time next as Austin Jones shot a big gap up the middle and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. But the Knights came right back for a 41-7 halftime advantage after Luke Gerardot’s 1-yard run.

Gerardot added an 8-yard TD run in the second half and Trevor Gibson finished the Crestview scoring with a 43-yard run.

Meanwhile, Calvert put together a successful passing attack for a couple scores against a running clock.

Park Hemming hit 16-of-30 passes for 215 yards for the night. The total included 9-of-15 for 133 yards and a couple scores in the second half.Corbin Kantner (seven catches, 92 yards) and Paul (six catches, 80 yards) were the favorite targets. Kantner caught a 17-yard scoring pass and Paul had a 6-yard TD grab.

“This was a great group of kids from top to bottom,” said Fox, whose club closed the year at 6-4. “You know, your goal as a coach is to train them for life, but they taught me some things through the year.

“This hurts, but when we get over the pain, our kids will realize they accomplished a lot this year,” he said. “They did some really great things, won the (Sandusky Bay Conference) championship and they got back in the playoffs again. Just a great group of kids.”