Mustangs outscore rival Purple Eagles to earn sectional playoff berth
Making it three wins in a row in the storied century plus old rivalry, Medina outlasted Albion 46-30 at Vets Park this evening to close out the B North Division campaign and lock up a berth in the upcoming Section VI Class B playoffs.
“What a great game,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley whose Mustangs also retained the “Doc’s Rock” trophy given annually to the winner of the contest. “I’m just real proud of our kids. To win three in a row in this series is really something special. Our kids really rose to the occasion.”
Quarterback Jason Hellwig threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers (Brett Pecoraro, Ty Hrovat and Brandon Schoolcraft) and also ran for one score to lead the attack for Medina which finishes at 4-2 in B North competition. Pecoraro and Devin Joy also each rushed for a touchdown.
Albion quarterback Kyle Smith likewise had a big three touchdown pass night hooking up with Trey Hart twice and Des Blackmon once. Manny Thompson also had a rushing touchdown for the Purple Eagles.
“It was a tough one to lose but I’m just very proud of our kids because they kept battling and battling and battling,” said Albion Coach Gary Parisi.
Setting the tone for the high scoring evening the teams traded scores three times in the first half which ended with Medina clinging to a slender 24-22 lead.
Medina jumped out to an early 8-0 lead on a 17 yard touchdown pass from Hellwig to Pecoraro and a two-point conversion carry by Joy.
Runs of 13 yards by both Hellwig and Pecoraro, along with pass completions by Hellwig of 12 yards to Schoolcraft and 11 to Hrovat, highlighted that drive which was set up by a fumble recovery by Trevor Bentley at the Medina 27.
However, the Purple Eagles, as they would do throughout the half, answered right back with a 20 yard touchdown pass from Smith to Hart to cut the deficit to 8-6 as the two-point conversion attempt failed.
A 17 yard pass completion from Smith to Hart and a 12 yard run by Thompson keyed that drive.
The sea-saw second quarter opened with Medina driving 80 yards for a score capped off by a 4 yard TD run by Joy and a two-point conversion run by Hellwig to briefly boost the Mustangs lead to 16-6.
Runs of 16 and 11 yards by Hellwig and of 16 and 12 by Joy highlighted the 14 play march which again was started after fumble recovery by Bentley.
“Turnovers were definitely the difference in the game,” said Valley.
Albion though quickly sliced the deficit to 16-14 on a 29 yard touchdown pass by Smith to Blackmon who made a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone. Thompson tacked on the two-point conversion run.
And again it was a turnover, this one a fumble recovery by Kory Reynolds, at the Medina 44 which set up the opportunity.
The two teams then traded touchdowns in the final 49 seconds of the half to keep Medina up by two at 24-22.
First, Pecoraro ran 8 yards for a touchdown and Hellwig passed to Dylan Lewis for the two-point conversion. A 12 yard pass from Hellwig to Schoolcraft followed by runs of 16 by Joy and 13 by Pecoraro got that drive rolling.
However, it took Albion just two plays after the ensuing kickoff to get that one back as Smith connected with Hart for a 50 yard TD bomb with 26 seconds to go and Thompson added the two-point conversion run.
Medina finally opened up a little breathing room at 38-22 by scoring on the first two possessions of the third quarter.
First, a 25 yard run by Pecoraro helped set up a 13 yard touchdown pass from Hellwig to Hrovat. Then runs of 29 yards by Eric Neace, 23 by Joy and 17 by Pecoraro set up a 1 yard TD carry by Hellwig who then passed to Lewis for the two-point conversion.
“We came up with a couple of big plays when we needed to,” said Valley.
The Mustangs then gambled and lost on a fourth down and four situation at their own 45 late in the third quarter and Albion quickly took advantage of the good field position to score on a 14 yard TD run by Thompson and a two-point conversion carry by Smith to slice the deficit back to eight at 38-30 but the Purple Eagles would get no closer.
The Mustangs though answered the challenge with a 9 yard Hellwig to Schoolcraft touchdown pass and a two-point converse carry by Joy to regain a 16 point, 46-30, advantage with 9:16 to go in the fourth quarter. Pecoraro keyed that drive with an 18 yard run and a 16 yard pass reception from Hellwig.
Albion did drive to the Medina 20 late in the game after Smith completed passes of 34 yards to Hart and 18 to Thompson but the Mustangs defense turned back that final threat on an interception by Hrovat at the 1 yard line with just 1:06 remaining.
Pecoraro finished with 11 yards rushing, Hellwig 118 and Joy 97. Hellwig also completed 13 of 21 passes for 147 yards.
Medina finishes the regular season at 5-2 overall while Albion winds up at 3-3 in the division and 4-3 overall. The Mustangs look to be the No. 8 seed for the Class B sectionals and are expected to face top seeded Bennett in the quarterfinals next weekend.
Albion still holds a 64-48-5 lead in the series which dates back to 1898.
Burgard 45, Barker/Roy-Hart 14
Andy Xapsos threw touchdown passes of 12 yards to Austin Deopp and 8 yards to Dominick Snider for Barker/Roy-Hart in the 45-14 B North Division too to Burgard at All High Stadium. Xapsos also completed a two-point conversion pass to Brandinlee Woods.
Snider had 102 yards rushing on the evening while Tom Callaghan had 4 catches for 47 yards and Doepp 4 for 43.
Barker/Roy-Hart finishes the regular season at 1-5 in the division and 2-5 overall.