FOOTBALL Harding pulverizes McKinley

The Raiders reinforced their No. 1 state ranking with a 57-9 win for an 8-0 record.
WARREN -- The Canton McKinley High football team put Warren Harding in an unfamiliar position.
Behind on the scoreboard.
But the Raiders backed up their No. 1 state ranking in impressive fashion Saturday with a 57-9 victory over the fourth-ranked Bulldogs at Mollenkopf Stadium.
"When we play real good football over four quarters, we're capable of things like we saw tonight," Warren (8-0) coach Thom McDaniels said.
On its first possession, McKinley (6-1) drove 83 yards on Warren, with senior quarterback Ben Palumbo tossing a 14-yard touchdown pass to junior Dorian Chenault.
Momentum: Warren wasn't fazed by its deficit, and seemed to gain momentum throughout the first half.
"That inspired us to play harder," said McDaniels of McKinley's initial score.
Arguably the most critical part of Warren's attack began with 8:41 left until halftime.
That's when the Raiders orchestrated an incredible 99-yard drive, which was kept alive by an illegal-participation penalty on McKinley.
Warren junior quarterback Mike Phillips capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, which helped put the Raiders ahead 28-7.
Got worse: But it only got worse for the Bulldogs, who lost to McDaniels, their former coach.
Palumbo fumbled on their next possession, with senior Clayton Davis recovering for Warren. It took one play for senior Maurice Clarett to capitalize, running 45 yards for the touchdown and a 35-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior Travis Stanford recovered a free ball for the Raiders, who again needed one play to make McKinley pay.
Bulging lead: Junior quarterback Mike Kokal threw a 29-yard touchdown strike to Clarett, and Warren had a 41-7 halftime lead.
"That's what team football can generate," McDaniels said. "One phase of the game sets up the next phase of the game. That's how it happened tonight."
Clarett finished the first half with four touchdowns (three via the rush), 118 yards on 14 carries and 82 yards receiving on two catches.
The Ohio State recruit finished the game with 20 carries for 162 yards.
"I've seen all he has," McDaniels said with a smile, when asked if his standout ever unveils something different. "I'm sure he'll add a few things to his repertoire when he gets to Columbus."
Demolition: In the second half, Warren only added to its demolition of McKinley. Senior Dave Herron, who ran for 89 yards on seven carries, scored on an 8-yard run and senior Mike Hanck kicked a 34-yard field goal.
"Dave Herron was huge tonight," McDaniels said.
Junior James Johnson returned a McKinley fumble 49 yards for a touchdown, and senior Jen Jennings' extra-point kick made it 57-7 in the third quarter.
A botched snap on a Warren punt gave McKinley a safety at the outset of the fourth to finalize the scoring.
The passing attack of Phillips and Kokal helped ignite the Raiders early.
TD strike: After running for 35 yards on his team's first play, Phillips threw a 31-yard touchdown strike to senior Coree Tucker with 7 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Tucker finished with three catches for 90 yards.
Clarett's conversion run put the Raiders ahead to stay, 8-7.
Two possessions later, Kokal took over and completed a 53-yard pass to Clarett that put the Raiders at McKinley's 1-yard line.
With a 1-yard run, Clarett began his flurry of touchdowns and sent Warren on its way to Cincinnati Elder next week for another match-up of state-ranked teams.
"Maybe we'll see them again," McDaniels said of McKinley. "Who knows?"