Canfield’s Breinz runs through NDCL, 22-7

WARREN — The Canfield Cardinals remained undefeated as senior running back Paul Breinz ran past Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin for a 22-7 victory on a frozen Friday night at Mollenkopf Stadium in a Division III Region 9 semifinal.

Breinz rushed for 174 yards and scored his 17th and 18th touchdowns of the season to help the Cardinals advance.

“I’ve got to give the credit to our offensive line. They’re opening holes for me. They did a really great job,” Breinz said. “Our offensive line coach is unbelievable. Our coaches put us in the best position to win the game.”

The Lions got the ball to start the game. Junior linebacker Tyler Stein didn’t waste any time putting his mark on the game intercepting a pass and giving the ball to Canfield. Twelve plays and 47 yards later Breinz punched it in from 2 yards out. On a fake extra point, the holder, Nick Ieraci, ran it in to put the Cardinals up 8-0. After an NDCL punt the first quarter came to an end.

Canfield drove the ball down the field to start the second quarter but their drive was stymied at the Lions’ 3-yard-line where they turned the ball over on downs.

Notre Dame had to punt on their next opportunity with the ball. The Lions have a real weapon in senior kicker Gabe Brkic. Only three of his kickoffs were returned all season. He blasted the ball 59 yards down the field back to Canfield. After a three and out by Canfield, Notre Dame got on the board.

With 4:30 left in the first half, senior Josh Peroni had a beautiful 78-yard touchdown run to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 8-7. Peroni broke out to the sideline and then raced across field for the score. The game went to the half with that score.

Canfield got the ball to start the second half. Neither team could put together a a successful drive in the third quarter. Notre Dame had a drive on which it converted two fourth downs, but it ended with a fumble.

With the score 8-7 to start the fourth quarter it was anybody’s ball game. Stein made another big play with a huge sack that gave Canfield the momentum it needed to close out the game.

On the ensuing possession Breinz put the Cardinals on his back. On a five-play 69-yard drive, Breinz had every yard. Taking direct snaps, Breinz pounded the ball down the field, highlighted by a 55-yard scamper. He plunged in from 5 yards out to make it 15-7 with 8:45 remaining.

Notre Dame followed with a three-and-out. Breinz got right back to work with a 41-yard run. Senior quarterback Vinny Fiorenza, who had 90 yards rushing on 17 carries, took an 8-yard run to the goal line but the ball popped loose. Luckily junior Matt Zaremski was in the perfect spot to scoop up the ball in the end zone for the touchdown and make it 22-7, Canfield, with 1:56 left in the game.

Notre Dame got the ball but was pushed way back by penalties. Senior Will Dawson intercepted the ball back for Canfield and it was time for the victory formation to run out the clock.

“Paul Breinz is a heck of a running back. He is so unselfish. He only had 100 carries in 10 ballgames because he’s a two way player. We need his skills on defense as well,” Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said.

Canfield is now 12-0 on the season and plays Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary next week in the regional final.

” I’m just so proud of our guys’ competitiveness and effort all night long,” Pavlansky said.

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