November 28, 2014

Elyria
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H.S. Football: Elyria solves slop, stops Medina 14-7, qualifies for playoffs

Elyria's Tavon Kurtz runs for yardage with the help of Mike Church. LINDA MURPHY/CHRONICLE

Elyria’s Tavon Kurtz runs for yardage with the help of Mike Church. LINDA MURPHY/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — All’s well that ends well.

At least in the eyes of Elyria’s football team, as it sewed up a playoff berth with a hard-fought 14-7 victory over Medina on Friday night in the slop and the mud at Ely Stadium.

It’ll be only the second time the Pioneers will play a Week 11, as they wrapped up their third straight 7-3 mark under coach Kevin Fell. Elyria’s other postseason trip came in 2005.

Medina didn’t look anything like a 3-7 team as it made Elyria earn the victory.

“I think we just finally figured out how to run in it,” Fell said of the field conditions. “Until you’re down here on it, you don’t realize it’s not like any muddy field. It’s a swamp.”

Swamp or not, Elyria’s Jumarr Lewis, as Fell said, figured out how to run in it just enough to give the four-year letterman 112 yards Friday and 1,000 for the season. His sidekick, Jordan Connell, also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Pretty good considering the makeshift offensive line Elyria used with center Kevin Cloen out with a back injury.

“We put Darius (Badford) at tackle,” Fell said. “There were three changes. We moved Seth Billings to center and moved Jacob Mangus to guard. We just did that on Wednesday.”

Lewis needed 75 yards on the ground, Connell needed 54. Lewis finished with 112 and two touchdowns. Connell, in spite of a tender ankle sprained last week at Stow, came up with 55.

“Thank God for giving me the energy and the skills to be able to keep my balance out here and master my craft,” said Lewis, who literally dragged some Medina defenders for extra yardage. “It was kind of tough with the field all muddy, but we stuck with it and kept playing.”

Lewis scored his first touchdown as time expired in the first half and got the winner with just 1:57 to play. A face-mask penalty on the Bees gave Elyria a first down at the 14 after a fourth-down play appeared to be short.

In the first half, after Jerry Klue put the Bees on the board with just under two minutes left, Elyria used its timeouts wisely to drive 65 yards in 10 plays. Three key pass plays to Eric Eisom netted 38 yards on the drive.

“We called two plays,” Fell said of the situation after Eisom’s reception got the ball inside the 5 with around 25 seconds to go. “We called the same play twice. That’s all I talked about in the timeout. ‘They’re going to lay on you and you’ve got to yank him (Lewis) up.’ Our guys grabbed Jumarr, yanked him up, got the snap and he got it in the end zone.”

Elyria’s winning drive was 75 yards in 14 plays and ate up more than six minutes. Lewis, Connell and Xavier Mason carried the load.

Elyria’s defense came up big to stop Medina on a fourth-and-3 at the Medina 46 to clinch the win and the playoff berth.

“Going into the playoffs, I always thought you need to be healthy,” Fell said, “and you’ve got to be starting to play well. We’re starting to come out of it (after losing three of four) and starting to play.”

RECORD SET: Linebacker Connor Kamczyc set his sights on Elyria’s single-season tackle record before the year began. Last week at Stow, he recorded his 185th tackle, bettering the previous best of 171 in 1991 by Damon Fielding. Against Medina, Kamczyc was in on the first two tackles and had to finish with more than 200 on the year. “We made stops in the red zone when we needed it,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to be the second team in school history to make the playoffs.”

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or timothygeb@msn.com. Follow him on Twitter @gebby67.