The Tigers’ winning offense gave the Bulldogs fits early, but not for long as Stow locked down on Cleveland Heights after a game tying 14 point run for the Tigers early in the game. After that last score by Cleveland Heights, the Bulldogs ripped off 31 straight points to put away the Tigers 45-14 and earn head coach Tom Phillips’ first playoff win with Stow.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring when junior Owen Bainbridge connected with senior Justin Weightman on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 8:52 left in the first quarter (2-point conversion was good). Stow managed to build up a 14-point lead after Bainbridge connected with senior Jack Costa over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown with 6:13 remaining in the opening quarter (2-point conversion no good). The Tigers came bouncing right back in the second quarter when sophomore Darreon Fair scored on a quarterback sneak with 11:55 remaining in the first half (extra point attempt was good). The Tigers would score their final points of the night after Fair once again ran up the middle on a quarterback sneak with 5:17 left until halftime (extra point attempt was good). With the first halt winding down, the Bulldogs found the endzone two more times before halftime to regain the lead for good. Stow’s last two scores of the half were a 9-yard touchdown run by senior Jack Bryden (2-point conversion was no good) and a 33-yard touchdown reception down the sidelines by senior Billy Luketich (two-point conversion was good). This sent the Bulldogs to the locker room at halftime with a 28-14 lead over Cleveland Heights.
While the first half had been a 50/50 split between the two teams, the second half was all Stow as the Tigers were shutout on the second half. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 17 points when senior kicker Brenden Horrocks kicked a 29-yard field goal with 8:16 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs got their final two touchdowns of the day in the final stanza of the game. Stow went up 38-14 with just under ten minutes left in regulation when Bainbridge ran up the middle on fourth-and-one for a 9-yard touchdown run (extra point was good). The final points of the night were scored when Bryden sliced through the middle of the Cleveland Heights defense for a 14-yard touchdown run with 5:23 left in the game (extra point was good).
With the loss, Cleveland Heights dropped to 4-2 on the season and travel to Glenoak on October 16th for a regular season game. The Bulldogs on the other hand picked their first playoff win since 2016 (a 35-10 win over Canton McKinley @Bulldog Stadium) and improved to 5-1 on the year. Next week the Bulldogs will travel to Jerome T. Osborne Stadium to take on Mentor in the second round on October 16th (7:00 PM kickoff). Stow will have a chance to avenge a 49-17 first-round loss to the Cardinals back in 2017. Stow’s Jack Bryden was named WRMU player of the game and rushed for 168 yards, two rushing touchdowns, and an interception.