Mustangs down rival Purple Eagles to claim sectional berth

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 18 October 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Dylan Lewis dives into the end zone for Medina’s first touchdown which sparked the Mustangs to a wild 38-31 victory over rival Albion at Spierdowis Field this evening to clinch a sectional playoff berth.

ALBION – Locking up a sectional berth and retaining possession of the Doc’s Rock trophy, Medina outlasted archival Albion 38-31 at Spierdowis Field this evening in an exciting B North Divison season finale.

Kyle Barna scored three touchdowns and Dylan Lewis and Dan Brown both tallied once to lead the attack for Medina which next looks to visit top seed Alden in the quarterfinals of the Section VI Class B playoffs next Friday night.

“It’s just great for our program,” said Medina coach Eric Valley. “Sectional appearances have been few and far between for us so this is a huge turnaround for our program. I’m just really proud of our kids.”

Quarterback John Warne hooked up with Des Blackmon for three touchdown passes and Ed Wolfe ran for another score to lead the way for Albion.

Rebounding strongly from a three game losing streak, Medina jumped out to a 16-0 lead at the outset.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina running back Kyle Barna looks up field after taking a hand off from quarterback Jason Hellwig. Blocking is Brandon Schoolcraft (51).

The Mustangs scored on the game opening drive as quarterback Jason Hellwig hooked up with Dylan Lewis for a 17 yard touchdown pass. That same combination clicked for a big 27 yard completion down to the Albion 13 to highlight the drive. Hellwig then completed the two-point conversion pass to Brown.

The Medina defensive unit then came up big as Brett Pecoraro intercepted a pass to stop an Albion drive at the Mustangs 30.

Capitalizing on the opportunity, the Mustangs drove 70 yards for a score, a drive capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run by Barna at 10:17 of the second quarter. Hellwig again hocked up with Brown for the two-point conversion pass to make it 16-0.

Pass completetions from Hellwig to Barna of 20 and 19 yards and a 17 yard run by Brown highlighted the drive.

The Mustangs got the ball right back when Albion fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Trevor Bentley recovered for Medina.

The Mustangs offensive unit though was unable to capitalize as the Albion defense stopped the drive at the Purple Eagles 10.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Des Blackmon hauls in a touchdown pass for Albion.

Bolstered by that stand, the Albion offense put together a 90 yard scoring drive capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run by workhorse running back Wolfe and a two-point conversion pass from Warne to Trey Hart cutting the deficit to 16-8 and getting the Purple Eagles right back in the game with 42 seconds to go in the half.

Big pass completions by Warne of 26 yards to Hart and 26 to Blackmon keyed the drive.

However as was the case all evening, Medina quickly answered the challenge with a lightning quick scoring drive that took just 27 seconds.

Taking over at midfield followng a short Albion kickoff, the Mustangs took just three plays to reach the end zone.

A run of 16 yards by Barna and a pass completion of 21 from Hellwig to Brown set the stage for a nifty 15 yard scoring pass which saw Hellwig roll out to his left and hit Barna on the run for the touchdown with just 15 seconds remaining. Barna added the two-point conversion run boosting the Mustangs advantage to 24-8 at the half.

“Albion had us back on our heels a bit after their long scoring drive so coming right back with that score was huge,” Valley said. “What a way to shift momentum before halftime.”

Albion again came battling back at the outset of the third quarter taking the kickoff and driving 70 yards for score on a 6 yard touchdown pass from Warne to Blackmon cutting the deficit to 24-15 as Mike Eldred added the extra point kick.

Wolfe, who rushed for a total of 175 yards on the night, had big gains of 15 and 22 yards to key the drive.

However, again Medina answered the challenge with a long scoring drive which used most of the rest of the third quarter.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Ed Wolfe was the Purple Eagles workhorse running back. Medina’s Ty Hrovat moves in to make the tackle.

Barna, who had two clutch fourth down pickups to keep the drive alive, capped off the march with s 1 yard touchdown run to make it 30-15 with 16 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Hellwig also had a pair of big pass completions to Barna covering 21 and 19 yards, the second of which helped get Medina out of a deep third and 24 hole.

The sea-saw scoring battle continued in the final stanza as Albion sliced the deficit to 30-23 on a 12 yard Warne to Blackmon touchdown pass and a two-point conversion run by Wolfe with 8:26 to go in the game. A 12 yard Warne to Hart pass completion and an 11 yard run by Wolfe highlighted the drive.

The Albion defensive unit held Medina on downs on the next series forcing a punt.

Starting at their own 29 the Purple Eagles were able to gain up one first down but were then stopped on downs on a fourth down gamble at the 40 with 4:33 remaining.

“Four minutes to go and we had to have a touchdown. We went for it and didn’t make it, “Albion coach Tony Osburn said. “Our kids battled though. They showed a lot of character in coming back like that.”

Capitalizing on the great field position, Medina drove in for the clinching score as Brown broke a tackle, cut up field and raced 27 yards for a touchdown and a 38-23 lead with 2:44 remaining. Barna had a 13 yard pick up to get the drive started.

Refusing to fold, Albion did battle back driving 70 yards for a late score as Warne connected with Blackmon for a 12 yard touchdown run and Wolfe added the two point conversion run cutting the deficit to 38-31 with half a minute to go.

Albion tried an onside kick but Drake Grabowski recovered the ball for Medina near midfield to preserve the Mustangs victory.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Members of the Larry Decker family present the Doc’s Rock trophy to Medina after the Mustangs victory. Representing Medina are coach Eric Valley and captains Nate Hodgins, Dan Brown and Kyle Barna. Representing the Decker family are Brett Decker, Mrs. Judy Decker and Melissa Decker Osburn.

“Albion gave us a great battle but our kids stepped up,” Valley said. “They came ready to play.”

Medina and Albion both finish the regular season at 3-3 in the division and 4-3 overall.

The Purple Eagles, who still lead the all time series against the Mustangs 64-47-5, will likely host a Class B consolation bowl game next Friday night.

Scoring Plays

First Quarter
Medina – Hellwig 17 yard pass to Lewis; Hellwig to Brown
Second Quarter
Medina – Barna 3 yard run; Hellwig to Brown
Albion – Wolfe 3 yard run; Warne pass to Hart
Medina – Hellwig 15 yard pass to Barna; Barna run
Third Quarter
Albion – Warne 6 yrd pass to Blackmon; Eldred kick
Medina – Barna 1 run
Fourth Quarter
Albion – Warne 12 yard pass to Blackmon; Wolfe run
Medina – Brown 27 yard run; Hellwig pass to Barna
Albion – Warne 12 yard pass to Blackmon; Wolfe run

Medina: 8-16-8-6 = 38
Albion: 0-8-7-16 = 31