Versailles players and coaches pose for a team photo after losing to Kirtland in the Division VI state title game on Friday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Drew Terhall | AIM Media Midwest

CANTON — Versailles couldn’t keep up with Kirtland and lost 32-15 in the Division VI state final on Friday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Kirtland built a 19-7 lead by halftime and scored the first two touchdowns of the second half. The Tigers scored a TD with less than a minute left to narrow the final gap.

Versailles finishes 13-3 overall. The Tigers, which beat Kirtland 20-16 in the D-V state final two years ago, will lose 18 seniors to graduation, including Michael Osborne, who was the D-VI Southwest district offensive player of the year.

“Extremely proud of this football team. It’s been a very special year, what they’ve accomplished has been tremendous,” Versailles coach Ryan Jones told the Greenville Daily Advocate. “These four guys represent a senior class that’s worked extremely hard, put in a lot of time, lot of effort and a lot of sacrifice. I love these guys and I would do anything for them.”

Osborne completed 10-of-23 passes for 124 yards with one TD and ran for 131 yards and one TD on 25 carries.

The Hornets had 339 yards of offense and didn’t commit any turnovers. Versailles had 268 yards of offense and committed one turnover. The Tigers made 5-of-12 third down conversion attempts and 2-of-5 fourth down attempts. Kirtland converted 2-of-8 third down attempts and 4-of-4 fourth down attempts.

Kirtland quarterback Jake Laverde ran for 124 yards on eight carries. Rocco Alfieri ran for 94 yards and one TD on 23 carries and Will Beers ran for 83 yards and one TD on 15 carries.

Kirtland built a 19-7 lead at halftime.

The Hornets forced a three-and-out by Versailles to start, then drove 55 yards on nine plays to score and take an early lead. Laverde ran in from 7 yards out but fumbled. Gino Kir Blasini recovered the fumble in the end zone for Kirtland, though, for the TD with 7:46 left.

Will Beers scored on a 6-yard TD run with 3:07 left in the first to cap off a seven play, 54-yard drive and push the lead to 13-0 after a missed extra point.

Michael Osborne threw a 31-yard TD pass to AJ Griesdorn with 10:55 left in the second to cut the gap to 13-7, but Beers returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a TD to extend the lead to 19-7 after a failed two-point conversion try.

The Hornets drove inside the red zone on the final possession of the first half, but Versailles stopped Alfieri on a run up the middle at the 1 as time expired.

Alfieri scored on a 2-yard TD run with 4:23 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 25-7 after a failed two-point conversion try.

The Hornets went on a 16 play, 66-yard drive and ran nearly nine and a half minutes off the clock in the fourth. Beers capped off the possession with a 15-yard TD run on a fourth down with 3:07 left to boost the lead to 32-7.

“It’s an extremely well coached team. Coach LaVerde does a fantastic job here in what he’s been able to accomplish with the Kirtland program is quite remarkable. The consistency and the year in and year out level of excellence. Really happy with the way we prepared all week. I thought our defense did a great job today, just ran up against a really good team and they made a few more plays than us.”

Osborne scored on a 5-yard TD run and threw a two-point conversion pass to Jace Watren with 55 seconds left to cut the final gap to 14 points. Kirtland recovered an onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.

It’s the seventh state title for Kirtland. It’s the fourth runner-up finish for Versailles, which has also won seven state titles. Kirtland has finished as runner-up five times, including 2022 and 2021.

“I’ve been blessed with a good coaching staff, they do a great job,” Jones said. “These kids put in a lot of work, it’s important to them. When football is important to you or anything is important to you, you’re willing to sacrifice and put in that hard work. The bigger thing is I hope they take those lessons and that approach of focusing on their daily work, focusing on the system we have instead of those goals.”