Alter gets payback over CJ in regular-season finale

Alter’s Lamar Landers runs against the Chaminade Julienne defense during Friday night’s game at Rausch Stadium. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Alter’s Lamar Landers runs against the Chaminade Julienne defense during Friday night’s game at Rausch Stadium. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Top-ranked Knights will start playoffs with home game next Friday

Connor Bazelak and his Alter teammates planned on revenge Friday night when Chaminade Julienne came to Roush Stadium. Because one year ago on the same turf, Alter was stunned by CJ in a first-round playoff loss.

The Knights got their revenge, and it was swift.

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During a 29-second span late in the third quarter, Alter scored 21 points. A close game was suddenly blown open and the Knights rolled to a 35-3 victory in the rain for their third straight GCL North Division title.

“Kind of unexplainable,” CJ coach Marcus Colvin said. “We fumbled it away.”

Bazelak scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak for a 13-3 lead with 1:43 left in the third. The Eagles fumbled the kickoff. The Knights recovered at the 2. Peter Riazzi scored on the next play, and CJ Hicks ran in the two-point conversion for a 21-3 lead with 1:35 left.

CJ fielded the next kickoff but was tackled at the 10. Freshman quarterback Luke Chandler threw a backward pass out to his right on the next play. But it wasn’t caught and the Knights recovered the fumble at the 1. Riazzi scored on the next play and it was 28-3 with 1:16 left.

Alter coach Ed Domsitz said he’d never seen anything like it in his 44 years as a head coach.

“Fortunately for us they made some mistakes,” Domsitz said. “It’s hard not to take advantage of it when it’s inside their five-yard line.”

Last year the Knights beat the Eagles 34-6 in their traditional season ender in the rain. CJ won 49-28 a week later on a clear night.

“The whole week we were focusing on getting revenge on them and coming out hard and winning,” Bazelak said. “It was great to get revenge for all the seniors last year.”

Alter (9-1, 7-0 GCL) will play a home playoff game next week in Division III, Region 12. CJ (7-3, 4-3) will be on the road for a playoff game and could get another rematch with Alter. The OHSAA will announce playoff pairings Sunday.

CJ’s defense dominated Alter early and led 3-0 at halftime. A snap that sailed over the Alter punter’s head midway through the first quarter to set up a 29-yard field goal for CJ’s Jake Staub.

“You play really well in the first half, and if you’re going to beat an Alter team it requires physicality and tackling,” Colvin said. “And we did a heck of a job doing that in the first half.”

The Knights spread its offense a bit in the second half and got halfback Branden McDonald going with a couple of toss plays to the edge. Then the play came in that gave Bazelak a chance. He hit Derek Willits in stride down the left side for a 70-yard touchdown pass and a 7-3 lead less than four minutes into the second half.

“I just knew we needed something to get us going, and we made it happen,” Bazelak said.

The revenge win isn’t enough for the Knights, however. They also want to make up for not making a playoff run last year. They have now won 27 straight GCL games and are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press state poll.

“I’ve played with these guys since third grade,” Bazelak said. “I know how good we can be. I know that we can go five more weeks.”

Domsitz is taking the Knights to their 18th straight playoff and has won two state titles. He’s cautiously optimistic.

“It’s subject to proof every week,” he said. “We’re good enough to be GCL champs and we’re good enough to host a playoff game. I’m real pleased at this point. We’re a solid football team.”

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