TORONTO - Toronto head coach Eric Meek received a strong effort from his defense while his sophomore quarterback put on a show as the Red Knights topped visiting Bridgeport 35-14 Friday on Clarke Hinkle Field.
"We came out of the gate and played great defense," said Meek. "We had some big plays. Then they made some adjustments. They came out in unbalanced set, got a couple plays, and hit a big pass.
"They kept playing, give them credit. We adjusted, played good defense in the fourth quarter, and good offense also."
The Red Knights opened the game with an 11-play, 62-yard drive that ate 5:20 off the clock. After Charles Ross III returned the opening kickoff 32 yards out to the Toronto 38-yard line Blaze Glenn and company went to business. The biggest play of the drive was a 19-yard completion to Nate Stewart on a third-and-eight play. There were nine rushes for 43 yards on the march, including a 2-yard Ross III touchdown. Danny Zdinak put home the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
"We didn't come out with the intensity we need to play football with, bottom line," said Bridgeport head coach Rudy Vavrock. "They lost last week, we won. I don't know. We just didn't play with the intensity we need."
After forcing a Bridgeport turnover on downs at the Toronto 42, the Red Knights quickly put another touchdown on the board. On the second play of the drive Blaze Glenn dumped a screen pass to his brother Chez Glenn, who scampered 56 yards to paydirt. Zdinak's point after was true again, and Toronto led 14-0 with 3:06 left in the third.
Both defenses held tight until late in the first half when another Ross III return, this time on a punt, set up another Toronto score. Ross II took a punt 26 yards to the Bulldogs' 35-yard line to set up his own 35-yard touchdown grab from Blaze Glenn with 34 seconds left in the half. Zdinak was unable to get the kick off when the snap was mishandled, but Toronto still led 20-0 going into halftime.
The Bulldogs found some fire to begin the second half, taking the kickoff and marching 59 yards in 10 plays. Bradley Pritchett did the honors from four yards out, and Benjamin Baker kicked the extra point to make the score 20-7 Toronto.
"At halftime, we thought we could run the ball a little it so that's what we decided to do," said Vavrock. "We knew we were still up against the clock. We had chances to make tackles and didn't make them. We missed too many tackles on defense."
Toronto answered right back though thanks in part to another big play in the return game. This time Chez Glenn came up with a 41-yard kickoff return out to midfield. After a pair of Blaze Glenn completions covering 15 and 5 yards, Chez Glenn broke a 26-yard run down to the four, and took it in on the next play. The conversion pass failed the lead was 26-7 Red Knights.
Bridgeport found the end zone again on its next possession. Bailey McGrath hit Colt Charleton for a 5-yard completion on the first play of the drive and thee plays later McGrath pushed in from a yard out. Baker hit his second PAT and the scoreboard read 26-14 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.
That was as close as the game got as Blaze Glenn added a 1-yard TD leap with six minutes left in the game and Zdinak put home a 27-yard field goal with 1:55 left to make the final 35-14.
"We had the one fumble, but I thought offensively we moved the ball all night," said Meek. "Defensively we did a good job. We were very concerned about them offensively after scouting them against Columbiana last week.
"I thought it was the second week in a row our defense came out and was physical, and that's very encouraging."
Blaze Glenn was 8-9 for 200 yards and two scores through the air and added 82 yards on 15 carries with a score on the ground to lead the Red Knights. Chez Glenn caught two passes for 70 yards and a score and added eight carries for 38 yards and a touchdown with Ross III contributing two grabs for 40 yards and a score to go with six rushes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Toronto had an even 200 each on the ground and through the air for a 400-yard day on offense.
Added Vavrock about Blaze Glenn, "He's a good athlete. He's very quick in the backfield, and we knew that coming in, but when we have him bottled up, and we have our chances to throw him back for a 10 yard loss you've got to make the tackle.
Bridgeport managed just 193 yards of offense on the evening. At halftime the Bulldogs had just 26 yards. McGrath was 9-15 for 106 yards through the air with an interception and led the team with 37 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. Charleton had four catches for 74 yards.
Toronto (1-1) travels to Fairport Harbor next Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Bulldogs (1-1) return home against Caldwell.