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Last year, Stow-
Munroe Falls and Nordonia football played a shootout for the ages at Boliantz Stadium, which Stow won 65-37.
On Sept. 23 at Bulldog Stadium, the two teams were at it again, as the Bulldogs and Knights each put up 28 points in the second half.
The problem for Nordonia was its offense was stymied in the first half.
On its Homecoming night, Stow sprinted out to a 35-0 lead at halftime and matched the Knights from there, going on to a 63-28 win.
Stow improved to 5-0, 2-0 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Nordonia dropped to 2-3, 0-2 in the National Conference.
"I thought the coaches had a great game plan tonight and the kids executed very well," said Stow coach Mark Nori. "[Nordonia is] a tough team that's going to fight you for the entire game. I think they showed that tonight."
"That's a great football team," Nordonia coach Jeff Fox said of Stow. "They exploited our mistakes and we made mistakes in all three phases of the game. I am proud of the way our team came back in the second half. We have to get better at winning Monday through Thursday."
Stow didn't play a perfect first half. The Bulldogs' initial drive stalled when Nordonia stuffed Terrian Wray on fourth and 1 at the Nordonia 20.
Two plays later, however, Stow forced Nordonia quarterback Robby Levak to fumble and recovered at the Nordonia 8. Wray ran in an eight-yard sweep for a touchdown on the next play.
After a nice punt return by Jared Wright, Stow scored again when Wray ran four yards up the middle for a touchdown with 5:30 left in the first.
Wray ran for 122 yards on 18 carries, as Stow put up 339 rushing yards on the evening.
Nordonia's defense stiffened on its next two drives. After stuffing the Bulldogs on fourth-and-1, the Knights got an interception in the end zone from Bernard Russ Jr. to end a scoring threat.
However, the Bulldogs returned the favor by stuffing Nordonia on fourth down at its own 28.
Two plays later, Bulldogs quarterback Kyle Vantrease ran in a read option play from 16 yards out, making it 21-0 with 5:02.
Vantrease had a solid night with his arm and his legs. In addition to rushing seven times for 96 yards and a touchdown, he went 13-of-19 for 186 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
All four of Vantrease's passing touchdowns went to his favorite target: Senior wide receiver Joe Andrassy.
Vantrease hit Andrassy with a 36-yard touchdown on a wheel route with 2:42 left in the second quarter and then on a nine-yard slant for a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the half.
"I've said it before. Those two have been playing together since the sixth grade, so they know each other inside out," Nori said.
Down 35-0 at halftime, Nordonia went to the short passing game to get on the board.
Levak found his favorite target -- junior Tye Evans -- for a 25-yard touchdown with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
Stow would answer with Wray running the ensuing kickoff back to the Nordonia 35.
Four plays later, Stow senior Joe Gobble -- who was named Homecoming King at halftime -- ran in a three yard touchdown.
"It wonderful," Gobble said. "I love scoring touchdowns and seeing my brother score touchdowns. The biggest thing was just to win the game."
Nordonia came back with a second touchdown from Levak to Evans, this time from 16 yards out.
The Knights then recovered an onside kick. On the next play, Levak found Evans on a screen pass that turned into a 48-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 42-21 after three quarters.
Levak went 15-of-32 for 183 yards and three touchdowns and also led the Knights with 68 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Evans had seven catches for 121 yards.
However, that was as close Nordonia would get. Two plays into the fourth quarter, Vantrease hit Andrassy with a seven-yard touchdown pass.
Nordonia tried to reply again, as running back Anthony Perrine plunged in from one yard out with 9:48 left in the game.
Perrine had a quiet night, rushing 20 times for 65 yards.
Any hope of a Nordonia comeback ended when Vantrease hit Andrassy for their fourth touchdown pass of the night, this time from 15 yards out with 7:01 left.
Stow backup running back Bryan DeVitis tacked on one more touchdown on an eight-yard sweep with 2:26 left in the game.
Nordonia kicker Trey Crockett was perfect on the night with extra points, as was Stow kicking tandem of Gavin Costello and Austin Burnham.
Nordonia finds itself in the same position it did a season ago after five games. Last year, the Knights were able to win their final five contests to secure a playoff berth.
Fox said it won't be easy for Nordonia to duplicate that feat this fall. The Knights will host undefeated Brecksville-Broadview Heights Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.