Versailles topples Kirtland to win first state title in 18 years

Tigers snap Hornets’ 55-game winning streak

CANTON — Versailles toppled one of Ohio’s small-school powerhouses to win its first state championship since 2003.

The Tigers (15-1) beat three-time defending state champion Kirtland 20-16 in the Division V state championship game on Saturday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, snapping the Hornets’ 55-game winning streak.

Senior quarterback Carson Bey and senior running back Jack Osborne each rushed for touchdowns as Versailles won its seventh state football championship.

“It’s just a tremendous accomplishment for our players,” said Versailles coach Ryan Jones. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys for the hard work that they put in. I think they set their mind to do this. They found out that the price of success was high and they were willing to pay that and that started in June and they approached every day with the same attitude to get better every day.”

The Tigers struck first, scoring on a 15-yard run by Carson Bey midway through the first quarter. It was the first time Kirtland had trailed in a game since the 2019 playoffs.

The Hornets cut the lead to three after a 38-yard field goal by Joey Raguz with 2:52 remaining in the first quarter.

Versailles responded with a 24-yard TD pass from Bey to Michael Osborne in the back of the end zone to make it 13-3.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the second half, Versailles drove 80 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a 1-yard run by Jack Osborne to up its lead to 20-3.

Kirtland scored on a 29-yard run by Gage Sullivan to pull within 20-10 early in the fourth. Kirtland senior Mason Rus scored on a 4-yard run with 37 seconds remaining to make it 20-16, but the Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory.

The Hornets entered the game with a nation’s longest-winning streak. They hadn’t lost since falling to Marion Local in the D-VI state championship game in 2017.

“I think we competed hard until the end,” said Hornets coach Tiger LeVerde. “It just didn’t happen for us today. (Versailles) is a good football team and they deserved to win the game. I love these kids and I don’t want these kids to (to think) that they weren’t successful because this was a very successful season. Getting to Week 16 is very hard.”

The Tigers went 3-7 in Jones’ first year and went 5-3 last season, falling to Roger Bacon in a D-V regional semifinal game. The senior class set their sights on advancing as far as they could this season after buying into the program two years ago, Jones said.

“When I came in, these guys were sophomores,” he said. “They could have said ‘Who is this little guy coming in here from Troy Chrisitan and we don’t want to be a part of this.’ But they embraced it. They bought into the program. They gave it every ounce of effort that they had. They put the work in on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom. They’re just tremendous young men, and they’ve made me a better man and a better coach being around them.”

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