Toronto 34, Barnesville 20
TORONTO — Host Toronto High improved its season mark to 7-2 and all but assured the Red Knights of an Ohio Division VII, Region 25 playoff berth with an emotional 34-20 victory over Barnesville on Friday.
Earlier in the week, the Red Knights suffered a huge loss with the passing of sophomore lineman Noah Sapp on Wednesday.
Throughout the stadium, there were tributes to him. There were signs. Players and coaches wore shirts with his name and number on them. His number was painted in yellow at midfield. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla greeted each player as they stood in line for Senior Night activities and extended his sympathies.
Toronto showed it was playoff-caliber on the game’s opening drive, marching 57-yards on 18 plays for the game’s first score to lead 7-0. The drive, which took a shade over 6 minutes off the first-quarter clock, included two fake punts and a fourth-down conversion that resulted in a 13-yard gain.
Barnesville was guilty of a costly turnover on its first drive, and the Red Knights answered quickly. Barnesville would finish with four total turnovers on the night including a pair inside the Toronto 5-yard line.
Caleb Leasure hit Brendan Matyas for a 23-yard TD strike putting Toronto up two scores.
"I was certainly proud of the effort," Barnesville head coach Blake Allen stated, with his Shamrocks falling to 4-5 with the road loss. "They fought until the end, but it feels like a broken record — penalties and turnovers. You can’t beat anyone like that, let alone good teams."
Barnesville took long drives inside the Red Knights five-yard on its next two possessions, but fumbled the ball away both times. All told, both teams combined for nine turnovers and nearly 250 yards of penalty yardage.
The Shamrocks pulled to within a score on its second drive of the second half when senior Caden Lake scored with a one-yard run with a little less than five minutes left in the third to pull within 14-7. But the Red Knights answered with a nine-play march, culminated by a one-yard plunge by Zach Stackhouse that helped make the score 21-7.
Senior Alex Meade led the Barnesville offense, finishing with 87 rushing yards and 73 passing.
"We have one week left," Allen said, "and we have to focus on finishing the next week right and go out with a win against our rival (at Union Local)."
NEXT — Barnesville travels to Union Local on Friday at 7 p.m.