STOW — It didn’t take Kevin Fell long to answer the question Friday night following Elyria High’s 20-7 loss to Stow.
“We just were flat,” said Fell, the Pioneers coach. “We’re not that bad, but we just can’t seem to play on the road.”
Or turf for that matter. Elyria’s three losses have been on the road and on artificial turf, where one might think the Pioneers would thrive with weapons like Jordan Connell and Jumarr Lewis, among others.
But that hasn’t been the case, especially at Stow, where the offense couldn’t sustain anything as the Bulldogs controlled both lines of scrimmage. The final score is not indicative of just how superior Stow was — at least in the trenches.
“That first half, they should have been up 30-0,” Fell said. “The way we were playing, we were barely hanging on in the first half. They were shoving it down our throats for 2½ quarters. Yet we come back in the second half — (Stow) does the exact same thing and we stop them.”
Stow (8-1, 4-0) clinched the River Division of the Northeast Ohio Conference with the win and solidified its hold on a home playoff game. Elyria (6-3, 2-2) has Medina left on its schedule next week at Ely Stadium with a postseason berth likely in its hip pocket already.
Jake Flinn nearly broke the opening kickoff, returning it from the 18 to Elyria’s 44-yard line. Stow pounded the ball to a first-and-goal inside the 10-yard line before settling for a 21-yard field goal from sophomore Garrett Rigsby.
The Bulldogs held the Pioneers to just 66 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half, yet led just 13-0.
Elyria’s leading rusher was quarterback Hunter Parsh with 35 yards on four carries, but Parsh was intercepted once and lost four fumbles, three in the second half. His saving grace was hooking up with senior Jacob Csizmadia for an 86-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Stow methodically controlled the clock and the ball. When it added a third-quarter back-breaking score off a botched snap on a field-goal attempt, it simply wasn’t Elyria’s night. Holder Brian Groves had the wherewithal to pick up the errant snap and hoist a pass to Flinn that put Stow up 20-0 with 6:31 to go in the third quarter.
“I thought our kids hit pretty hard,” Stow coach Mark Nori said. “We caused a couple of fumbles. (Elyria) had a drive going on a couple of occasions. We won the turnover battle and that was huge.”
The Bulldogs outgained Elyria 207-76 on the ground and 135-126 through the air. Take away the long TD pass, and the Pioneers mustered just 116 yards.
“We’re not blocking very well,” Fell said. “We’re not running the ball very well and we’re not passing very well. That’s what got us beat. We had nothing to hang our hats on offensively.”
On top of that, the Pioneers turned it over four times and lost Connell to a sprained ankle early in the game. Elyria entered Friday’s game plus-nine in turnovers.
“I tried to go back out there,” Connell said. “I couldn’t do it.”
WRIGHT FATHER: Hudson coach Ron Wright promised his son Kyle he’d be there for Senior Night at Stow and he held up his end of the bargain. The coach walked with his son down the 50-yard line before the game and immediately left by a small plane to head to Mentor, where his Explorers lost to the Cardinals.