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Poland can't get past St. Vincent-St. Mary

November 16, 2013
By MATT WAGNER - Tribune Chronicle (mwagner@tribtoday.com) , Underthelights

RAVENNA - Despite going into the Division III, Region 7 semifinal game against St. Vincent-St. Mary at Ravenna Stadium as the underdog, Poland had reason to believe in an upset for a brief moment early in the second half.

On the opening kickoff to the half, junior Austin Wilson caught the ball at his own 11-yard line, ran up the middle, found a seam and sprinted past the entire Irish kickoff coverage for an 89-yard touchdown, pulling the Bulldogs to within one touchdown.

"It gave our kids a lot of confidence," Poland coach Mark Brungard said. "Austin Wilson is fast. He did a good job and didn't get caught. For a moment there, we were really believing."

Unfortunately for Poland, the team couldn't get over the hump, as the Irish scored 21-unanswered points over the final 18:20 to pull away for a 35-7 win. The Bulldogs (10-2) struggled on offense to put anything together, as they managed just 120 total yards against the SV-SM (12-0) defense.

"They're a heck of a team," said senior running back Ross Gould, who rushed for 106 yards on 27 carries. "We did what we could, but they've got a bunch of Division I recruits. Their linebackers are great, and they're a great team. We did all we could."

Poland's offense didn't help the defense out much, especially in the second half, as the Bulldogs turned the ball over three times throughout the game. The Irish capitalized just twice, however, with all 14 points off turnovers coming in the second half.

One of those turnovers turned the tide of the game just after Wilson's kick-return touchdown. The Bulldogs forced SV-SM to punt the ball, and all the energy seemed on Poland's sideline. Two plays later, though, an Irish lineman tipped Dom Petrony's pass, and Anthony Adkins pounced on the ball in the air at the Poland 24-yard line.

Aaron Adkins punched in a 4-your touchdown run five plays later at the 6:20 mark in the third, which started the Irish's dominance toward the end.

"Our defense played outstanding," Brungard said. "We gave them short fields all night, and they defended them and did the best they could."

Outside of the turnovers, the Poland defense held strong, as SV-SM had only three drives that went for more than 35 yards. The Bulldogs also slowed down star running back Parris Campbell in the first half by stacking the box against the run, as the Ohio State-recruit went for 35 yards in the first 24 minutes.

Campbell finished the game with 128 yards on 18 attempts, but St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dan Boarman praised the Bulldog defense for its effort all night.

"(Poland) did a nice job trying to take away Parris (Campbell)," Boarman said. "They had a kid spying Parris all night. They also had 10 (players) in the box.

"With 10 in the box, We still ran the ball considerably well. It wasn't a perfect game, but I thought we ran OK."

While the Irish move on to face Hubbard in the regional final next Friday, the Bulldogs season came to a close, and for the seniors, so did their careers.

Brungard said he tried to offer the seniors some advice about beyond their playing days at Poland High School.

"I told them to live for something bigger than themselves because they played for something bigger than themselves," Brungard said. "If they do that, they'll be successful."