NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio –
It took no time at all for Kolten Ruark and the Springfield Tiger offense to find its rhythm in Friday’s first round matchup against the Mathews Mustangs. Ruark threw two first quarter touchdowns, and the Springfield defense blanked Mathews in a 42-0 routing.
After forcing a Mathews (8-3) three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, Ruark connected with Seandelle Gardner on the Tigers third play from scrimmage on third down for a 70-yard score less than 4 minutes into the game. Another three and out for Mathews and the Tigers offense was back in business. Springfield would march down the field for their second score of the first quarter, this one a Ryan Carcelli two-yard touchdown run.
Already ahead by two scores, Springfield would capitalize on a Mathews fumble that would result in the Tigers starting their third drive in short field. On the first play of the drive, Ruark would connect with Sean Guerriero in the endzone for a 28-yard touchdown.
Springfield would score once more prior to the break on a Dante Gentile 13-yard touchdown run. While the Mustangs started to find some success on their final possession of the opening half, the drive would stall out in Tiger territory just before the break.
Starting with the ball in the second half, Ruark and the Tiger offense picked up right where they left off, as the junior signal caller would connect with Guerriero again, this time for a 46-yard TD. With the running clock enacted, Mathews would methodically move the ball down the field again but stall out once more in Tiger territory.
Springfield would score once more on the night on an 8-yard touchdown run by Carcelli for his second of the night, bringing the score to its final,42-0.
Kolten Ruark: 6/6 passing, 176 yards, 3 TDs
Ryan Carcelli: 17 carries, 122 yards, 2 TDs
Sean Guerriero: 3 catches, 83 yards, 2 TDs
Seandelle Gardner: 3 catches, 93 yards, 1 TD
Dante Gentile: 4 carries, 44 yards, 1 TD
Ethan Petak: 30 total yards
Taking the reins at the beginning from the storied Beau Brungard lost to graduation, Ruark struggled through the beginning parts of this season. The junior signal caller completed just 53% of his passes in the Tigers first four games, throwing 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Since the Springfield slow start at 0-4, Ruark has captained the Tigers offense to 35 points per game in their 7 straight wins, throwing for 769 yards at a 70% completion mark, 13 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions.
For Springfield to make a deep postseason run that the Tiger faithful have become accustomed to, Ruark will need to continue to play at a high level as the Tigers start to ramp up their competition, much like the beginning part of this season.
After taking care of business in their only guaranteed home game of the postseason, the three-time defending champs of region 21 will take on the back-to-back region 25 winners, the Warren JFK Eagles (9-1).
JFK’s 30 first quarter points in their opening round matchup put the opposing Fairport Harding Skippers in a hole early and the Eagles never looked back, winning 37-9.
*Contributed By YSN’s Jamie Thomson