SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Blaize Exline scored five touchdowns Friday night as the Salem Quakers bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to rival West Branch in week 10 to move on to round two of the playoffs with a 48-14 victory over Woodridge.
“You always have a concern,” Quakers’ coach Ron Johnson admitted. “I’ve been a part of a pretty big week ten game over in Stark County and that was always a concern as to how will your kids respond the week after. We challenged them early on about staying focused. Be proud of the experience you had last week. That was a great high school football game. But none of our goals were unattainable.”
After the game was tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter, Exline scored his first touchdown with 2:50 remaining in the opening quarter when quarterback Jackson Johnson connected on a 76-yard pass for a touchdown and a 14-7 Quakers lead.
“You want to get that adrenaline going,” Exline remarked about the quick score. “That was huge for us.”
The Quakers would add to their advantage in the second quarter with Austin Sinkovich scoring his second touchdown on the night, a 40-yard pass from Johnson. That score came at the 11:23 mark of the second frame.
Exline would score his second touchdown with 5:09 remaining in the first half on a 1-yard pass. That gave the Quakers a 28-7 lead.
“It’s important to get the ball in his hands,” Coach Johnson remarked. “He’s such a dynamic player. We handed the ball off to him, we have him on punt returns, and throwing the ball to him.”
But the Bulldogs would score on a 3-yard run with just 3:28 left before the intermission to close the deficit to 28-14.
The Bulldogs would turn the ball over three times in the second half as the Quakers took advantage of all three miscues. The first came following a fumble on the Bulldogs opening possession. Exline scored on a 19-yard pass at the 10:02 mark to make it 35-14.
The Quakers scored again following another Bulldogs fumble when Exline took a handoff 44-yards for his first of two rushing scores on the night. That score at the 6:37 mark made it 41-14 in favor of the Quakers.
The Quakers would add their final touchdown on the night on a 1-yard run by Exline with just 1:19 remaining in the contest. The score was set up by Jackson Johnson picking off an errant Bulldog pass at the Dogs 35.
The Quakers (8-3) will move on to face Ursuline (7-3) in an all-local matchup in round two.
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