Mustangs nip rival Purple Eagles in thriller

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 22 October 2021 at 11:19 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Medina quarterback Xander Payne breaks loose for a good gain during the Mustangs Homecoming win over rival Albion this evening at Vets Park. Pursuing for the Purple Eagles are Jacob Hughson (4) and Jr. Morales (2).

In a wild sea-saw battle which saw five lead changes, Medina outlasted rival Albion 30-28 this evening before an overflow Homecoming crowd at Vets Park.

Coming from behind three times, Medina finally regained the lead for good at 30-28 on 6 yard touchdown run by Iverson Poole with 9:58 to go in the fourth quarter. A big 38 yard run by quarterback Xander Payne set up the opportunity.

“We haven’t been challenged like that all season but our kids kept battling back and that is the kind of moxie we will need in the sectionals,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley.

Medina’s Iverson Poole hauls in a touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Albion though came battling back with a drive deep into Medina territory.

Quarterback Amari Jones completed passes of 9 yards to Jacob Hughson and 10 yards to Javon Jones moving the ball to the Medina 32. He then got loose for a big 17 yard run down to the Mustangs 15 but was injured on the play and was unable to return.

The drive then stalled out on downs at the 13 with 4:03 remaining and the Mustang offense was able to run out the remaining time to preserve the narrow two point win. Noah Skinner, Greg Thompson and Cayden Lilleby shared in carrying the ball during that key drive.

“It’s tough to replace a player like Amari but it has to be next man up,” said Albion Coach David Skrip of the key loss of his quarterback at a crucial spot in the game.

Albion got off to a quick start in the game grabbing leads of 6-0 and 12-8 in the first quarter on touchdown runs of 3 yards by Hughson and 63 yards by Javon Jones.

Albion’s Javon Jones breaks away from a tackle attempt by Cayden Lilleby.

In between Medina got on the scoreboard on an 8 yard touchdown run and two-point conversion carry by Poole. A key fourth down 13 yard pass completion from Payne to Greg Thompson kept the drive alive which was also highlighted by a 26 yard run by Poole.

Medina regained a 16-12 lead early in the second quarter on a 25 yard touchdown run by Poole a two-point conversion carry by Skinner. A long 43 yard Payne to Thompson pass completion keyed the rive.

The Mustangs then upped their lead to 24-12 at the half on a 15 yard touchdown pass from Payne to Poole with just 23 seconds left in the half. Skinner again added the two-point conversion carry.

Albion though came storming back in the third quarter to regain the lead at 28-24 on touchdown runs of 3 yards by Hughson and 1 yard by Amari Jones.

Amari Jones had a big 38 yard run and a 13 yard pass completion to Jahmeek Riley to highlight the first drive while a fumble recovery by Jabari Johnson at the Medina 29 set up the second score.

That set the stage for one more lead change early in the dramatic fourth quarter which saw Medina regain the lead for good at 30-28 on a short touchdown run by Poole early in the stanza. Albion then made the finish exciting by marching deep into Mustang territory late in the stanza only to have the drive stalled out when Amari Jones left with an injury.

The victory was Medina’s 50th in the nearly 125 year old rivalry. Albion holds a 68-50-5 lead in the series which dates back to 1898.

Medina closes out the regular season at 8-0 and Albion at 5-2 as both teams will begin sectional playoff action next weekend.

The evening was also highlighted by the induction of Medina’s 1980 sectional championship team to the John “Pinky” Loughlin Football Wall of Fame. (Click here to view a video of highlights from the game. Also check our Facebook page for additional pictures from the game)

Medina Coach Eric Valley and Mustang team captains Xander Payne, Joe Cecchini, Colvin Stalker, Hayden Woodroe, Iverson Poole and Jarin Rhim accept the Doc’s Rock Trophy from Judy Decker and Brett Decker. The trophy is given to the winning team each year in memory of Larry “Doc” Decker who coached at both schools.