Mustangs edge Trojans in a thriller to capture Section VI Class C championship

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 14 May 2021 at 10:33 pm

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina players and coaches celebrate with the championship plaque after edging Southwestern for the Section VI Class C title this evening at Vets Park.

In a down to the wire thriller, Medina ended a 33 year playoff title drought by edging past Southwestern 21-13 in the Section VI Class C championship game this evening at Vets Park.

“It feels great. It’s been a long time coming,” said Brian Fry who scored all three Medina touchdowns and also had a huge day on defense with two pass interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

The outcome wasn’t decided until the final seconds when the Mustangs defensive unit came up huge to stop a Southwestern drive at the Medina 10 yard line as a big hit by Noah Skinner knocked the ball loose and Fry made the recovery to seal the victory.

Medina’s Brian Fry celebrates with Mitchell Silversmith (76) and Colvin Stalker (59) after his victory clinching fumble recovery in the final seconds.

“That was a huge play at the end,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley. “The defense played lights out. It just feels amazing.”

The Mustangs defensive unit also came up with a huge goal line stand early in the fourth quarter stopping three Trojan running plays at the 1 yard line.

“Those were huge plays. That was the turning point,” said Valley.

Medina jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead by taking the opening kickoff and driving 72 yards in 14 plays capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run by Fry and an extra point kick by Cole Seefeldt.

The Mustang twice converted fourth down plays on the drive via pass competition by quarterback Xander Payne first of 10 yards to Joe Cecchini and then of 14 to Tyler Chinn. Payne also hooked up with Jarin Rhim for a 17 yard pickup and Cecchini for 12 yards on the drive.

Southwestern though answered back with an 11 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aidan Kennedy to Nate Johnson two minutes later but the Trojans missed the extra point kick keeping Medina up by a slender 7-6 margin. A 65 yard pass completion from Kennedy to Johnson keyed that drive which was set up by a pass interception by Garrett Swan.

The Medina defense stopped Southwestern’s other two opening quarter possessions first on a fumble recovery by Chris Johnson and later on a sack by Cecchini and Johnson which forced a short Trojan punt from the Southwestern 12.

Medina’s Chris Johnson sacks Southwestern quarterback Aidan Kennedy.

The Medina offensive unit was quick to capitalize on that opportunity. Starting from the Southwestern 28 it took the Mustangs just three plays to find the endzone on runs by Fry of 14, 13 and finally 1 yard for the TD. Payne then hooked up with Corey Saj for the two-point conversion giving Medina a 15-6 lead with 31 seconds to go in the opening period.

Late in the second quarter an interception by Fry gave Medina the ball at the Southwestern 45. A 22 yard pass from Payne to Fry quickly moved the ball to the 23 but from there the drive stalled out on downs.

Bolstered by that defensive stand, the Southwestern offense got rolling as Kennedy broke loose and zig zagged his way all the way up field for a 67 yard touchdown run with just 25 seconds to go in the half. The extra point kick by Neves Hoose pulled the Trojans with two, 15-13 at the half.

The Medina defense again came up huge on the first play of the second half as Fry recovered a fumble near midfield and returned it all the way to the Southwestern 4.

Pushed back twice by penalties and then aided by a big roughing the passer penalty against the Trojans on fourth down, the Mustangs finally scored on a 2 yard touchdown run by Fry with 6:51 to go in the third quarter to make it 21-13.

“We moved the ball  in critical situations,” said Valley.

The Mustangs defensive unit then made that lead hold up with several huge plays over the last quarter and a half.

First, Fry made a leaping interception in the Medina end zone to turn back a Southwestern threat late in the third quarter. Then the defensive unit made the critical goal line stand in the first two minute of the final quarter stopping three Trojan runs from the one yard line.

Finally, the big hit by Skinner and the fumble recovery by Fry at the Medina 10 in the final seconds capped off the thrilling win earning the Mustangs an undefeated 6-0 season and their first sectional championship since 1988.

Medina is now 4-0 in sectional title contests having previously defeated Silver Creek 20-14 in 1980, Cassadaga Valley 26-7 in 1982 and rival Albion 14-7 in 1988.

Fry takes the game winning fumble recovery up field as Southwestern’s Nate Johnson tries to make the tackle.