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Final thoughts from Dave 'Dino' DeNatale after Kirtland falls in Division V high school football state championship game

The Hornets lost to Versailles, 20-16, as their 55-game win streak came to an end at Canton's Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

CANTON, Ohio — All good things, sadly, must come to an end. 

Kirtland's magnficent 55-game winning streak was ended on Saturday in the Division V high school football state championship game, as the Hornets fell to Versailles 20-16. Let's get to our final thoughts from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium as we put a bow on what has been a fantastic 2021 season.

1. There have been many hallmarks of Kirtland football during the course of this amazing journey: Winning the line of scrimmage, playing mistake-free football, getting off the field on defense on third downs, and controlling the clock come to mind. All of those things were turned against them by the Tigers. The Hornets turned it over four times and committed eight penalties. They couldn't contain Versailles QB Carson Bey, who was a terror with his arm and his legs. And they couldn't gets stops when they needed them. 

2. Yet, the Hornets never surrendered. Down 20-3, they made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter and drew within six with just under a minute to play. They always believed that they still had a chance to win, right down to the final moment when the onside kick was recovered by Versailles with :37 seconds left. 

3. My most memorable moment of the night? Watching Hornet senior Gage Sullivan accept the runner-up trophy, then encourage his teammates to give an ovation to Versailles as they received their state championship. It was a passing of the torch, so to speak, from one champion to another. A class act from one of the best all-around players we've covered over the last four years. 

4. The night and the season are now over. But what an incredible ride! We witnessed 16 weeks of outstanding football here in Northeast Ohio, with four teams advancing to the state championship and two teams taking home titles. Congratulations once again to Chardon and St. Edward. While we still are dealing with the realities of a pandemic and other problems in our world, it's wonderful that every Friday night we can come together under the bright lights and watch these wonderful student-athletes and their dedicated coaches compete. 

5. Finally, let's get to some thank yous! Thanks to all of the schools (and athletic directors) that allowed us to come to their stadiums to bring you all of the action this fall. Thanks to the coaches for all of their assistance before and after the games. Thanks to the athletes, who make this so much fun for us. Thanks to our partners at Chick-Fil-A for their support of the WKYC Game of the Week this year. 

Big thanks to our 3News Director of Digital Content, Denise Polverine, who had this idea four years ago to do live games on our website and has let us run with it. 

And finally, SUPER big thanks to you, our audience, for your support all season long. You voted in our polls, you listened week in and week out, and you've helped us grow this into something very special. 

Until next season....

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