NORTH LIMA, Ohio (WKBN) – The top-seeded South Range Raiders were able to win a hard-fought rematch battle with rival Crestview 28-18 Friday night in the first round of the OHSAA playoffs. The victory improves the Raiders to 11-0 on the season and set’s up another rematch next Friday.
The Raiders will face Akron Manchester next Friday in a regional semi-final game at a site to be determined. The Raiders beat the Panthers 42-36 in week three of this season.
“It’s a playoff game,” Yeagley remarked. “Coach Cusick always does a great job, and here you have two rivals that you have already played once. It was going to be a battle. They are back healthy and they were ready to go.”
“Another rematch,” Yeagley said with a half chuckle about facing Manchester again. “We get to play another team again. But that’s alright. We’re going to line up and get after it.”
Buzzacco’s 3-yard TD run late in the first quarter gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead at halftime.
Crestview tied the game early in the third quarter on Andrew Yanssens 70-yard touchdown run.
Both teams were held scoreless until 3:56 before halftime when Raiders quarterback Aniello Buzzacco scored from 3-yards out to give them a 7-0 lead. Buzzacco would score three rushing touchdowns on the night and pass for another. He would tally 107 yards on 18 carries for the Raiders.
But the Rebels would tie the contest at 7-7 just 1:03 into the second half after am Andrew Yanssens 69-yard run. Yanssens run would follow a crazy change of possessions as the Raiders would intercept Rebels quarterback Caleb Hill at the Rebels 46, but then Raiders running back would give them back the ball on the next play when he fumbled at the Rebels 31.
Yanssens quick score seemed to ignite the Raiders as they went on a long 12-play drive that appeared to culminate with a Buzzacco 7-yard touchdown run. But the Raiders receiver Mathias Combs was called for a crack back block and negated the score.
“They called a crack back,” Combs confirmed. “I didn’t agree with them, but it got called so we had to deal with it.”
“We did some things we shouldn’t do. All of sudden the penalties start keeping us out of the end zone,” Yeagley explained. “We have to play South Range football. We have to keep our emotions under control.”
After the Raiders turned the ball over on downs they forced the Rebels to go three and out. Given a second chance, they would respond with a 2-play, 81-yard drive with Buzzacco scoring on a 7-yard run with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter. The score was set up by a 74-yard catch and run by Combs.
“I was playing past that point pretty mad,” Combs admitted after the penalty against him. “It kind of fueled me to go make big plays.”
The Raiders would add to their advantage with 7:19 when Buzzacco would score his third rushing touchdown. This time it was a 12-yard run. That score gave them a 21-7 lead.
Combs would clinch the game for the Raiders when he picked off a Caleb Hill pass at his own 26, and then Buzzacco would connect with him 7-plays later on a 54-yard pass with 4:00 left in the game. That touchdown gave the Raiders a 28-7 lead.
Yanssens, who rushed for a game-high 174 yards, would close the scoring on the night when he blasted up the middle for a 22-yard score. That touchdown came with just 2:23 remaining in the game.
“I’m very proud of the way our guys played. We just didn’t have enough at the end,” Rebels head coach Paul Cusick said. “Any time you’re playing the number one seed, their number one for a reason. We wish them the best of luck. Best of luck to South Range.”
“I think our guys grew up and got us back to where we need to be. Hopefully, they set the tome for next year,” Cusick added.
The Rebels close the season with a very respectable 6-5 record and playoff appearance following a disappointing 2-4 start to the season.
SOUTH RANGE 0-7-7-14=28
SR – Aniello Buzzacco 3 run (Levi Taylor Kick)
CR – Andrew Yanssens 69 run (Brandon Yanssens Kick)
SR – Buzzacco 7 run (Taylor Kick)
SR – Buzzacco 12 run (Taylor Kick)
SR – Mathias Combs 54 pass from Buzzacco (Taylor Kick)
CR – Andrew Yanssens 22 run (Brandon Yanssens Kick)
Read more: Week eleven high school football stories
Important high school football links:
Crestview vs South Range High School Football – November 3, 2017
Crestview vs South Range High School Football – November 3, 2017 x