CANTON — Kirtland fell one point short in the 2012 Division V State Championship, but the Hornets were not going to leave Stark County empty-handed this year.
Kirtland (15-0) scored 36 unanswered points in the second and third quarters, to break open an 8-8 tie and the Hornets cruised to a 44-16 win over Haviland Wayne Trace (13-2) to win the 2013 Division VI State Championship.
Kirtland hit the ground running, behind the talented tandem of Sam Kukura and Adam Hess.
The cousins combined to rush for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns, 196 for Kukura and 177 for Hess.
But it was Kirtland’s passing game that really hurt Wayne Trace and its high-powered offense.
In the first quarter, Kukura hit Hess on a halfback option for a long gain.
Then, with the Hornets clinging to a 15-8 lead in the second quarter, quarterback Sam Skiljan made the biggest throw of the game.
Facing 3 & 13 from the Hornets’ 5-yard line, Skiljan found his big tight end, Matthew Finkler in the flat for a 14-yard gain and a key first down.
On the next play, Hess broke free and raced 68-yards inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line and the Hornets took command.
Hess’s second touchdown of the quarter made it 22-8 Kirtland and that was the closest Wayne Trace would get.
The Hornets’ defense forced the Raiders to go three and out, and Kukura made them pay.
The senior found a hole, broke a tackle, and used a well-placed stiff arm to break free, and sprint 68-yards for another touchdown.
Skiljan tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter.
First the junior hit senior two-way star Ryan Loncar for six points.
Then Skiljan lofted a perfect pass to Finkler who covered 49-yards for another Hornets’ score to make it 44-8.
Wayne Trace quarterback Colby Speice threw for more than 250-yards and two touchdown passes, but the Kirtland defense harassed him all afternoon, and he only completed 18 of 44 passes.
Kirtland has now won 44 of its last 45 games, with the only loss coming to Coldwater, 10-9, in the 2012 Division V State Championship Game.
The Hornets won the 2011 State Title, 28-7, over Coldwater, and have now been to three consecutive Championship Games, winning two.