PARMA, Ohio –
If the Mentor (Ohio)
High School' Cardinals football team had any hope of unseating defending state champion St. Ignatius (Cleveland)
in Saturday's Division I regional final, they knew they'd needed Mitch Trubisky
to be, well, Mitch Trubisky.
For the second straight week, the Mentor standout quarterback and Ohio Mr. Football candidate proved that if you put the ball in his hands late in a close game, the opposition is in serious trouble. Trubisky strapped his teammates on his back and led the Cardinals to a 57-56 triple-overtime win over 18th-ranked St. Ignatius.
Trubisky capped a barrage of scoring when he connected with wideout Brandon Fritts
on a two-point conversion to give Mentor a hard-fought win and the Division I regional title.
St. Ignatius came in No. 18 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings.
"(Fritts) has been my go-to guy all season long so I just looked for him and let it go," said Trubisky, who completed 25-of-40 passes for 411 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a team-high 138 yards and another four scores. "We knew that if we want to be the best we had to get through St. Ignatius. We did it and I can't even describe how great it feels right now."
With the win over St. Ignatius, Mentor has now defeated the top two teams in the state in consecutive games, following last week's 63-56 upset over St. Edward (Lakewood). The Cardinals were also able to avenge a 48-21 loss to St. Ignatius on Sept. 8.
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"If you want to talk about some pretty special kids, we just came in and beat St. Ed and St. Ignatius two weeks in a row," said Mentor head coach Steve Trivisonno. "I'm not sure how we topped last week, but I think we just did. That's what it's about. They're a gritty group of young kids who battle every day."
In a game that featured six lead changes, Mentor actually seems to have the game in hand after taking the lead with just 48 seconds left in regulation. A 45-yard pass to the Nick Delisa
with less than a minute to go set up a one-yard run by Trubisky to give Mentor a seemingly safe 35-28 lead.See Ohio 5-game playoff roundup
But St. Ignatius, with its own tenacious scoring attack led running back Tim McVey
and quarterback Mike Lamanna
, engineered a comeback of its own. LaManna, still armed with all three timeouts, drove St. Ignatius from its own 25-yard line all the way down to the Mentor 19 before connecting with receiver Michael Siragusa
in the end zone with just five seconds left in the game.
St. Ignatius kicker Matthew Colella made the extra point after the kick, sending the game into the first overtime.
From there, with the defense for both teams showing plenty of fatigue, it started to become clear that whoever had the ball last had the best chance to win. Each team traded touchdowns in the first two extra frames before St. Ignatius pulled ahead in the third overtime 56-49 on LaManna's fifth touchdown pass of the game.
But that only set up Trubisky's final heroics. The North Carolina commit scrambled into the end zone to pull Mentor within one, and it quickly became a question of whether Trivisonno would call for a two-point conversion for the win.
Trivisonno said he never hesitated.
"I knew we had to go for two right there," he said. "Our defense was so exhausted and (McVey) had been playing such a great game. We knew we had to just put them away."
The game also marked the end of the stellar prep career of McVey, who rushed for 242 yards on 41 carries with three touchdowns, including the 60th of his career.
"It's really disappointing," said an emotional McVey. "We came out and played hard but we knew (Mentor was) going to be tough. They played great tonight."
With the win, Mentor (12-1) will face Whitmer (Toledo) next Saturday in the Division I semifinals.