Kenston senior wide receiver Carson Rivera-Gebeau (16) can’t be brought down by the Big Red’s defense during the Bombers’ thrilling 49-42 victory over Steubenville last Friday evening in Bainbridge Township

Ranked as one of the weakest teams in Division III, the Kenston Bombers football team is silencing its critics each week. The Bombers kept their playoff run alive by holding off Steubenville 49-42 last Friday evening in the Division III, Region 9 regional quarterfinals at Kenston Bomber Stadium.

“The kids brought it all week in practice,” said coach Jeff Grubich. “They followed through in the game so I’m proud of these guys. It’s a heck of an effort.”

Clinging to a seven-point lead, Kenston’s defense was on its heels as the Big Red’s offense was driving. With three minutes left, Steubenville had the ball at the Bombers’ 29 and handed it off to junior tailback Spencer Ostovich.

The burly Steubenville running back plowed through the hole, dragging a few Kenston defenders with him as he continued to fight for extra yardage. A Bombers’ defensive lineman punched the ball out before Ostovich was brought down.

The ball trickled near Kenston’s end zone but Bombers’ junior defensive back Logan Toft recovered it at the Kenston’s 2.

The Bombers retained possession in the closing minutes to seal the victory and earn its second postseason win for the first time since its 2018 state title run.

“We knew going into this game it was going to be a dogfight,” said Kenston junior quarterback Nikko Georgiou. “We knew our defense was going need to make big plays and they stepped up at the end and that’s all we could ask for.”

The first half saw both teams’ offenses get off to fast starts as they combined for 35 points in the first quarter with Kenston holding a 21-14 edge.

Steubenville tried to pack the box to slow down Bombers’ junior running back Sean Patrick but Georgiou responded by picking apart the Big Red’s secondary with crisp passing.

Deadlocked in a 35-35 tie in the third quarter, the momentum swung in the Big Red’s favor when Kenston junior punter Parker Munday’s knee hit the turf as he tried to corral a bad snap on fourth down, giving Steubenville the ball at Kenston 6.

The Big Red took 42-35 lead as Ostovich found the end zone on a 6-yard run.

Kenston responded with a six-play, 68-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Patrick.

Steubenville was on the move again thanks to Ostovich. The 6-foot-1 tailback was a freight train and bulldozed Kenston’s defense for 257 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 36 carries.

“He’s a big guy,” said Georgiou. “He just carried kids on his back. That’s a tough running back right there.”

The Big Red had the ball at Kenston’s 5 on fourth-and-two but the Bombers’ defense finally stopped Ostovich dead in his tracks by holding him to one yard to force a turnover on downs.

Four plays later, Georgiou hit Patrick on a wheel route for a 35-yard touchdown pass. It wasn’t how Kenston drew it up but things still worked out.

“That was a prayer right there,” Kenston’s quarterback said. “We got a rub right there that was supposed to be happen but Steubenville’s linebacker didn’t get rubbed. He just ran with Sean and Sean made a heck of a play.”

Kenston’s passing game was missing a key piece as senior wideout J.P. Germano was sidelined due to injury so the Bombers inserted Miller in his place. The move paid dividends as Miller caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.

The Indiana University commit missed the last seven weeks of the season after suffering several broken vertebrae in his back after a week three victory against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.

“It feels great to be back,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to come back but apparently I’m a fast healer so it feels great to be back here with my brothers out here in front of my home crowd.”

Georgiou led Kenston by throwing for 310 yards and four touchdowns on 21 completions out of 31 attempts and ran for 70 yards on 11 carries while Patrick totaled 43 rushing yards and two touchdowns on while catching four passes for 63 yards and three touchdowns.

Having already made school history by going undefeated at home in the regular season, Kenston continued to remain perfect at Bainbridge Township.

“It feels great for sure,” said Ryan Miller. “Especially going 7-0 at home. No class has ever done it before here so it’s definitely a great feeling to make some history.”

Kenston’s playoff run will take it to Twinsburg on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. when it faces Dover in the Division III, Region 9 regional semifinals.

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