Leopards Commit 6 Turnovers in Home Opener Loss to Poland 21-10 – Varsity Football
Poland Seminary 21, Louisville 10
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The Louisville Leopards Football Team fell to the visiting Poland Seminary Bulldogs 21-10 Friday Night at Louisville Leopards Stadium. With the loss, Louisville drops to 0-2 on the year.
Game Stats | Scoring Summary | Team Stats | Individual Stats
Leopards Dodge Bullet After Early Turnover
The Leopards first snap of the game would prove to be a bad omen foreshadowing things to come. The opening exchange was fumbled and junior linebacker Antonio Medina alertly fell on it at the Louisville 24 yard line for Poland.
The Bulldogs would net 2 yards on three plays before a 39 yard field goal attempt by sophomore kicker Jas Stefancin missed wide to the right leaving the game scoreless. The game would remain that way for two more drives as each team’s offense failed to move the chains and went three-and-out.
Davide Puts Louisville On the Board
Louisville got on the board first midway through the first quarter. Senior runningback Jacob Davide took a pitch to his left, ripped through a Bulldog defender, and ran into the endzone for a 15 yard touchdown run. Sophomore kicker Seth Colley added the extra point to put the Leopards in front 7-0 with 6:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
Louisville’s first touchdown of the season was setup by a 6 play, 64 yard scoring drive. The march started when senior quarterback Daveion Cruse found junior wide receiver Tate Golden for an 18 yard gain and the game’s first first down. Two plays later, senior runningback Andrew Essik shot up the gut for a 14 yard gain to the Poland 32. Essik would finish as the Leopards leading rusher with 15 carries for 70 yards.
Senior wide receiver Brandon Jackson made an 8 yard reception on the next play and then followed that with a 9 yard run to put the Leopards in the redzone. Davide scored on the next play sprung bay blocks on the outside by Jackson and junior wide receiver Braiden Hershey.
Leopards Defense Overcomes Short Field
Junior runningback Daniel Nittoli received the ensuing kickoff and ran it 43 yards down the left side of the field to setup Poland in prime field position once again at the Louisville 38. However, the Leopards defense was once again up to the challenge.
The Bulldogs managed to convert a 3rd-and-4, but turned the ball over on downs on their next series. Pressure in the backfield by Davide allowed sophomore linebacker Cam Dougherty and senior defensive lineman Connor Morley to tackle Poland junior quarterback Dominic Pagano in the backfield for a two yard loss on first down. On 4th-and-6, Davide nearly intercepted an errant Poland pass with a clear path to the endzone. Instead the ball fell incomplete and the Leopards took over on their own 21.
Louisville went three-and-out on their next drive and Poland reclaimed possession just past midfield. The Bulldogs managed to drive down to the LHS 27 yard line before the Leopards defense put up the stop sign. Their next three plays netted no yards, which included senior defensive back Charlie Roberts laying the lumber on an intended receiver to force an incompletion. On 4th-and-10, senior defensive lineman Shane Gates and Morley combined to bring down the quarterback for a 10 yard loss which gave the ball back to Louisville on downs.
Louisville Adds to Their Lead
The defensive stop ending in a sack gave the Leopard offense momentum and they would gain 61 yards on the next four plays to setup a first-and-goal. Cruse connected with Jackson for a 21 yard gain on the first play of the drive. The pair would hook up 4 times for 59 yards as Jackson would finish as Louisville’s top target for the night. Altogether Cruse would finish 10 of 19 passing for 143 yards.
Essik ran for 17 yards on the next play to the Poland 25. After a pass for no gain, Cruse rolled to his right and found senior wide receiver Chase Mueller for a completion near the right sideline. Mueller stayed inbounds and turned the catch into a 23 yard gain before stepping out of bounds at the two yard line on a diving attempt for the pylon.
Next the Leopards missed a huge opportunity to take a two touchdown lead. A false start penalty on 1st-and-goal backed Louisville up to the seven yard line. Then on second-and-goal, a pitch to the left was blown up in the backfield by sophomore defensive back Nico Genova. The Leopards would settle for a field goal attempt and Colley was true from 27 yards away to put Louisville in command 10-0.
Bulldogs Bark Back
The tide shifted in favor of Poland after that. The Bulldogs strung together a 12 play, 80 yard scoring drive in response to cut their deficit to 10-7 before halftime. Poland ran the ball on 10 of their 12 plays on the touchdown march and converted a pair of key third downs.
Senior quarterback JP Genova connected with senior runningback Bryce Barringer for a 30 yard gain to move the sticks on 3rd-and-11. Later in the redzone, Nittoli ran a sweep to the right to gain nine yards on 3rd-and-3. Two plays later, Pagano reached paydirt on a two yard quarterback draw with 2:26 to play before halftime.
The Leopards looked to answer with a score before halftime and crossed midfield via a Curse to Jackson 18 yard completion. Louisville appeared to have converted a 3rd-and-4 on the next series, but a personal foul penalty in the backfield set Louisville back into a 3rd-and-23 from their own 38. On the following play, Cruse was strip sacked by junior defensive back Cole Fulton who recovered the ball near the Leopards sideline at the LHS 34 with 34 ticks left before halftime.
The Leopard defense came up big again forcing a three-and-out and allowing Louisville to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room.
Poland didn’t mess around out of the break. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Pagano dropped back into the pocket and threw a deep pass to Fulton for a 65 yard touchdown strike. Stefancin’s extra point was good and the Bulldogs had their first lead of the game at 14-10, just 11 seconds into the third quarter.
Defense Holds Despite Leopard Miscues
On the kickoff that followed, Poland called an audible onside kick that went off a Leopard player and bounced free near the Bulldog sideline. Medina pounced on the ball to give Poland the extra possession. So earlier on the opening snap of the game Medina recovered a fumble and on Louisville’s first touch of the second half, Medina also recovered a Leopard fumble.
Again, the Louisville defense held firm in forcing a punt after a three-and-out. But just two plays into the next drive, a pass near the right sideline was intercepted by Nittoli giving the Bulldogs the ball back at the the Leopard 44.
The LHS defense rose to the occasion once again to keep Louisville within a single score. Dougherty sniffed out an end around on first down dropping the ball carrier for a an eight yard loss. The Leopard defense also blew up a counter to the right on the next play for a five yard loss. Morley sniffed out the play first before senior defensive back Clay Chambers and junior defensive lineman Garren Bricker converged to drop the ball carrier near the Poland sideline. The Louisville defense stuffed a 3rd-and-23 run for a minimal gain forcing a punt.
That Bulldog possession started a string of four consecutive three-and-out possessions by both teams. When Poland finally got a first down late in the third quarter, they reversed course quickly. A holding penalty deep in the backfield put the Bulldogs in a 1st-and-28 scenario. Then Morley stormed into the backfield to sack JP Genova for a 16 yard loss on 2nd-and-25. The ball was jarred loose on the play but bounced off the turf and back into the hands of JP Genova setting up a 3rd-and-41. Needless to say, Poland punted on 4th-and-40 one play later.
Louisville Squanders Short Field
Stefancin’s punt traveled just 13 yards, shanked out of bounds, and the Leopards took over with by far their best field position of the night at the Bulldog 26 with a golden opportunity to take the lead. On 3rd-and-5, a pitch to the right was fumbled, one-hopped the turf, and was scooped up by Barringer at the 26 yard line. Barringer returned the fumble 14 yards to the Louisville 40.
The Leopard defense bent but didn’t break after the change of possession. On 4th-and-5 from the Louisville 31, a Poland pass was overthrown and fell incomplete in the endzone giving LHS hope. However, an illegal pass across the line of scrimmage on the next drive doomed the Leopards and they were forced to punt.
Pagano Touchdown Run Seals Poland Victory
The Louisville defense held all night long, but on their 68th play from scrimmage defensively it finally broke. On 3rd-and-5, Pagano took the snap and began running to his left. He then cut back right threw a gap and was off the races for a 49 yard game-sealing touchdown run. The score put Poland ahead 21-10 with 3:04 left in the contest.
Pagano would finish with 202 total yards of offense to lead the Bulldogs. Pagano carried the ball 22 times for 126 yards and scored 2 touchdowns on the ground. He also was 4 of 16 passing for 76 yards with the lone passing touchdown to Fulton to start the second half.
The Leopards looked poised to close the gap on their final possession. After a first down completion, another reception looked to move the chains again across midfield. But Nico Genova and junior defensive back Andrew Todd converged on the Louisville receiver to strip the ball. The football fluttered on the turf and was recovered by Poland sophomore defensive back Josh Macejko at the PHS 40 yard line for their sixth takeaway of the game. The Bulldogs ran the clock out after that.
Louisville Vs. Poland Series History
This is the first time that Poland has defeated Louisville in back-to-back games since 1960 and 1961 in the same away/home scenario. LHS still leads the all-time series 13-10 dating back to their first meeting in the Tri-County League back in 1952. The Leopards also still maintains a 7-4 edge in games played at home in the series.
Louisville is now 68-30-1 all-time in home openers and 35-17-1 in home openers played after week one.
<<< Previous 2021 | Poland All-Time Series
UP NEXT: The Leopards will next travel to take on the Northwest Indians on Friday, September 7. Game time is set for 7:00 PM from Dr. Martin Smilek Stadium. JV will travel to take on the Poland Seminary Bulldogs on Saturday, August 27 at 10:00 AM and then host the Tallmadge Blue Devils on Saturday, September 3 at 10:00 AM. The Louisville Freshman will also host the Tallmadge Blue Devils on Thursday, September 1 at 5:00 PM.
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Poland and Louisville Football Game Statistics
BULLDOGS 21, LEOPARDS 10
LOUISVILLE – Jacob Davide 15 Yard Run (Seth Colley Kick) | LHS 7, PHS 0, 6:24
6 Plays, 64 Yards, 1:27
LOUISVILLE – Seth Colley 27 Yard Field Goal | LHS 10, PHS 0, 6:43
8 Plays, 63 Yards, 3:08
POLAND – Dominic Pagano 2 Yard Run (Jas Stefancin Kick) | LHS 10, PHS 7, 2:26
12 Plays, 80 Yards, 4:17
POLAND – Cole Fulton 65 Yard Pass from Dominic Pagano (Jas Stefancin Kick) | LHS 10, PHS 14, 11:49
1 Play, 65 Yards, 0:11
POLAND – Dominic Pagano 49 Yard Run (Jas Stefancin Kick) | LHS 10, PHS 21, 3:04
6 Plays, 78 Yards, 3:34
Records: Poland Seminary 1-1, Louisville 0-2
Louisville: 11 (5 Rushing, 6 Passing, 0 Penalty)
Poland: 15 (11 Rushing, 3 Passing, 1 Penalty)
Louisville: 47 Plays, 215 Yards, 4.6 Average
Poland: 72 Plays, 319 Yards, 4.4 Average
Louisville: 28 Carries, 72 Yards, 1 Touchdown
Poland: 52 Carries, 203 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
Louisville: 10 of 19 for 143 Yards, 1 Interception
Poland: 6 of 20 for 116 Yards, 1 Touchdown
Louisville: 6 for 55 Yards
Poland: 6 for 60 Yards
3rd Down Conversions
Louisville: 1 for 8
Poland: 5 for 16
4th Down Conversions
Louisville: 0 for 0
Poland: 1 for 4
Louisville: 5 Punts, 172 Yards
Poland: 5 Punts, 125 Yards
Louisville: 3 Returns, 35 Yards
Poland: 1 Return, 43 Yards
Louisville: 2 Returns, 9 Yards
Louisville: 1 for 1
Poland: 0 for 1
Andrew Essik 15 Carries, 70 Yards
Jacob Davide 2 Carries, 17 Yards, Touchdown
Brandon Jackson 4 Carries, 1 Yard
Charlie Roberts 2 Carries, 0 Yards
Daveion Cruse 5 Carries, -16 Yards
Dominic Pagano 22 Carries, 126 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
Daniel Nittoli 11 Carries, 37 Yards
Cole Fulton 8 Carries, 37 Yards
Bryce Barringer 4 Carries, 12 Yards
Matteo Melone 2 Carries, -4 Yards
JP Genova 5 Carries, -5 Yards
Daveion Cruse 10 of 19 for 143 Yards, 1 Interception
Dominic Pagano 4 of 16 for 76 Yards, 1 Touchdown
JP Genova 2 for 4 for 40 Yards
Brandon Jackson 4 Catches, 59 Yards
Tate Golden 3 Catches, 45 Yards
Chase Mueller 1 Catch, 23 Yards
Braiden Hershey 1 Catch, 13 Yards
Andrew Essik 1 Catch, 3 Yards
Cole Fulton 2 Catches, 64 Yards, Touchdown
Bruce Barringer 1 Catch, 30 Yards
Luke Generalovich 1 Catch, 10 Yards
Josh Macejko 1 Catch, 8 Yards
Matteo Melone 1 Catch, 4 Yards
Brandon Jackson 2 Returns, 35 Yards, 22 Long
Daniel Nittoli 1 Return, 43 Yards
Chase Mueller 1 Return, 9 Yards
Brandon Jackson 1 Return, 0 Yards
Carter Duskey 5 Punts, 172 Yards, 34.4 Average, 38 Long
Jas Stefancin 5 Punts, 125 Yards, 25.0 Average, 36 Long