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Cleveland Heights enacts revenge on Harding

October 19, 2013
By DAVE BAUGH - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS - Last year, former Warren G. Harding and current University of Iowa tailback LeShun Daniels Jr. rushed for 227 yards and one touchdown against Cleveland Heights, their Lake Erie League foe that came into the game needing the victory to make the playoffs. Daniels' efforts helped fuel Harding to the victory.

Friday night, the shoe was on the other foot as it was Heights' tailback Marcus Bagley who set the tone with 160 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries as the Tigers plowed their way to a 41-16 victory on their senior night. After what happened last year, Heights coach Jeff Rotsky was more than pleased with his team's effort.

"Our goal was to start off running the ball," Rotsky said. "We felt that we could run between the tackles, then eventually to the edge. Once they started to load the box, we were able to find some of our athletes on the outside."

Heights (7-1) was able to utilize their offensive weapons due to the efforts of senior quarterback Taz Pauldo. In addition to going 9 for 14 for 113 yards and three touchdowns, he also added a touchdown on the ground. Unlike his teammates, this was his first game against Harding as he transferred in from Cleveland Central Catholic prior to this season.

"It's gratifying," Pauldo said of the win. "From what I hear, they knocked us out of the playoff race last year, so it's great to be able to get them back on senior night."

Heights' fast start on offense was triggered by the play of their defense, which only surrendered 63 yards in the first half. Harding (4-4) finished the game with 206 total yards, which was aided by a late surge from junior fullback Kalen Simpson as he finished the game with nine carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Senior John Coleman added 73 yards on 14 carries.

By halftime, Bagley had 150 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries, which played a huge part in Heights having 10 of their 15 first downs before intermission.

"We tried to set up our passing game with our running game," Rotsky added. "We were blessed to be able to do that against a good football team tonight."

Harding coach Steve Arnold gave Heights credit for putting their players in the position to execute.

"They have a lot more playmakers than we have," Arnold said of Heights. "They ran the ball hard and they were successful."

For the second consecutive week, Harding's leading rusher Keemari Murry was sidelined due to an ankle injury. While injuries have been an issue all year for Harding, Arnold plans to continue to push his players to a strong finish.

"No excuses," Arnold said of the injury problems. "We're going to come out and practice hard next week. We need to go to Bedford and get a victory. It's real simple."