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Mooseheart quarterback Jonathon Hart throws the ball while being pressured by Stark County's Justin Kohler in Mooseheart on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
It’s tough enough to win when you allow a team to make big plays.
It’s even more difficult when you turn the ball over.
Visiting Stark County took advantage of seven giveaways by the Mooseheart and won convincingly, 52-14, in Saturday’s Class 1A second round playoff game.
Already trailing 7-0, Mooseheart needed its defense to come up with a big stop when the Rebels faced a fourth-and-4 on the Mooseheart 5-yard line midway through the second quarter. Passing for just the second time of the game, Stark County quarterback Justin Kohler (8-of-9, 96 yards) found Bryce Willis (3 catches, 68 yards) for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0.
Another big play put Mooseheart behind 21-0. After the Red Ramblers failed to convert a fake punt, Kohler connected with Willis for a 47-yard completion that took the ball down to the 3-yard line. One play later, Kohler scored on a 1-yard run.
“It was big to convert that fourth down to put us up 14-0,” Rebels coach Jade Noard said. “After the fake punt, we thought we had that play earlier, but jumped offsides and came back on play action and our guy was open.”
Stark County pretty much put the game away with 1:21 left before halftime when Kohler flipped a 9-yard touchdown pass to Colton Senders, and then put an exclamation point on the contest when Danny Berchtold returned the second half kickoff for an 84-yard touchdown and 35-0 lead.
“It didn’t turn out the way we quite expected,” Mooseheart coach Gary Urwiler said. “Unfortunately we didn’t play our best football tonight. The tempo wasn’t there and I don’t necessarily think it was something they were doing.”
Not to make excuses, but the Red Ramblers weren’t anywhere near 100 percent. Oumaru Abdulah was limited to only two carries because of an injury, while wide receivers JJ Odunsi (8 catches, 74 yards) and Chris Villarruel (6 catches, 41 yards) also were fighting through injuries and illness.
Jonathon Hart (22-of-47, 233 yards, 7 INTs) tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Odunsi to finally put the Red Ramblers on the scoreboard with 9:13 left in the third quarter. Hart added a 42-yard strike to Sahr Mahoney early in the fourth quarter to account for all of Mooseheart’s scoring.