��� FB REG. 1: D1 #8 Mentor ousts #1 def. champ St. Ignatius in 3OTs, 57-56 | Ohio Preps Authority Football | iHigh.com
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FB REG. 1: D1 #8 Mentor ousts #1 def. champ St. Ignatius in 3OTs, 57-56

November 19, 2012
Ohio Preps Authority

By Eddie Dwyer
St. Ignatius High School

In what will go down as one of the greatest games in the history of the OHSAA football playoffs, eighth-ranked Mentor chose to go for a two-point conversion in the third overtime and made it to upset top-ranked defending state champion Saint Ignatius, 57-56, in the Division I Region 1 championship game Nov. 17 at a packed Byers Field in Parma.


The Wildcats close their outstanding 2012 season at 11-2, while the Cardinals – who scored the winning two-pointer on a pass from senior quarterback Mitch Trubisky to wide receiver Brandon Fritts – advance to the big-school state semifinals. At 12-1, Mentor’s only setback came at Saint Ignatius, 48-21, back in Week 3.

Saint Ignatius got several memorable performances, including exceptional efforts from senior tailback/linebacker Tim McVey, senior quarterback Mike LaManna, junior wide receiver Mike Siragusa, the entire offensive line, and a defense keyed by junior linebacker Kyle Berger.

McVey made it clear once again why he is the premier all-around running back in Northeast Ohio. Trubisky was brilliant as usual as the gifted Mentor signal-caller showed everyone at Byers Field why he is the obvious choice for the 2012 Ohio Mr. Football Award.

Here is the game story …

PARMA – Throughout a remarkable postseason run that has produced a record 11 Division I football state championships – including an Ohio-best five in a row from 1991-1995 – as well as a state runner-up (1996), 14 regional titles, and three national crowns (1989, 1993, and 1995), the Saint Ignatius Wildcats have won their share of hard-fought, will-testing games.

In front of a Nov. 17 crowd of nearly 10,000 at Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium, Saint Ignatius played with the heart of a champion for 48 minutes and more. But the same can be said for the Mentor Cardinals and their outstanding senior quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.

The Wildcats and the Cardinals, meeting in the Division I Region 1 championship game for the second consecutive season, tested each other’s will for nearly four hours before the multi-talented, resourceful, and resilient Trubisky hooked up with his strong and sure-handed 6’5” wide receiver Brandon Fritts on the winning two-point conversion in what was the third overtime.

The gutsy decision by Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno to go for two saw Trubisky follow up his two-yard touchdown run by rolling to his left and finding Fritts, who, off a nice pivot move, secured the ball in the corner of the scoreboard end zone.

As a brisk mist from an ideal football-weather night was making itself comfortable around the lighting in Byers Field, the fourth-seeded Cardinals (12-1) celebrated a 57-56 victory and a trip to the Division I state semifinals Nov. 24 against fifth-ranked Toledo Whitmer (13-0) at Mansfield Arlin Field.

Saint Ignatius, the second seed in Region 1, added another chapter to its storied program by advancing to the OHSAA playoffs for the 24th time and finishing with an impressive 11-2 mark. En route to their record “Eleven in ’11” state title season a year ago, the ‘Cats defeated the Cardinals, 23-17, in the Region 1 championship game at Lakewood Stadium.

“Sometimes we had to have the defensive backs go straight-up man (coverage), just run with them and do what we could do,” said Saint Ignatius Hall of Fame coach Chuck “Chico” Kyle (Class of ’69) after Trubisky keyed Mentor’s fifth victory in 15 meetings with Saint Ignatius by completing 25 of 40 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 138 yards and four TDs. “It slowed them down for a while and we had momentum, but then we had to score more.

"They started to do a lot of one-on-one patterns, and Mitch Trubisky is good. When Mitch Trubisky only has 20 yards to go, it’s a little rough. The way I look at it, he can run anybody’s offense. He’s very special. He showed it last week, he showed it this week.”

Kyle was referring to Mentor’s 63-56 victory over top-seeded and second-ranked St. Edward in a Nov. 10 regional semifinal at Byers Field, a game that saw the Cardinals rally from a 21-point deficit with 5:44 remaining in the third quarter and Trubisky pass for 476 yards.

Mentor started strong Saturday night and led 10-0 after wide receiver Conner Kirzancic, one of the more versatile athletes in the area, took a pitch from Trubisky and fired a picture-perfect, 46-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to junior wideout Corey Plavcan.

Junior kicker Mike Muzic added the extra-point kick with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter, and the second of his two first-quarter field goals had the Cardinals on top, 13-0, entering the second.

After a pair of touchdown runs by Saint Ignatius’ heart and soul – senior tailback/linebacker Tim McVey – and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Fritts that was sandwiched in between McVey’s TDs, Mentor clung to a 20-14 halftime lead.

The offensive fireworks were just starting.

The Wildcats, on the strength of a 24-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Mike LaManna to senior defensive end/tight end Kevin Kavalec, another short-yardage TD by McVey, and the ensuing extra points by junior Matt Colella held a 28-20 lead with 8:20 remaining in the game.

With Mr. Momentum showing shades of white, blue, and gold, however, Trubisky worked his magic again and put Mentor back on top by engineering scoring drives of 80 and 68 yards.

A three-yard TD run by Trubisky that was followed by a two-point conversion pass to Fritts tied the score at 28 with 5:17 to go. Trubisky’s one-yard touchdown keeper and Muzic’s ensuing extra point then appeared to have the Cardinals in the driver’s seat with a 35-28 lead and just 48 seconds to go in regulation.

During his 30 seasons as his alma mater’s head football coach, Kyle (301-69-1) has witnessed many championship drives by his Wildcats. Although it didn’t lead to what would have been a 15th regional football title for Cleveland’s Jesuit preparatory school, the drive that Saint Ignatius put together in the final 44 seconds is one its faithful won’t soon forget.

Behind the poise and left arm of LaManna and the clutch receiving of senior wide receiver Rocky Zingale and junior wideouts Jack Hyland and Mike Siragusa, the Wildcats covered 65 yards in a rapid pace of efficiency.

Faced with a 1st and 10 at the Mentor 19 with 11 seconds remaining, LaManna fired the ball down the middle of the field and the 6’3” Siragusa – one of the top young wideouts in Ohio – made a leaping catch over the defender in the back of the scoreboard end zone. Colella’s extra point was high and true, and the score was tied with just five seconds to go in the regulation 48 minutes.

Mentor took a knee following Saint Ignatius’ kickoff, and the teams headed to the first OT.

LaManna, McVey, and Siragusa continued to supply big moments in the three overtimes. Siragusa hauled in two more touchdowns. A 20-yard swing pass from LaManna to McVey and another extra point by Colella gave Saint Ignatius its final lead, 56-49, as the ‘Cats had the first possession of the third OT.

The final snaps from Saint Ignatius’ 20-yard line (each team starts its overtime possessions at the opponent’s 20), were something Trubisky and Company will cherish for some time, however, as the University of North Carolina recruit took the Cardinals into the next round in style.

McVey, who emphasized how much he loves each and every one of his teammates and how special it was to join his brother, Scott (Class of ’10), as a state football champion at Saint Ignatius, finished the night with 242 yards and three touchdowns rushing while carrying the ball a career-high 41 times.

Scott McVey, a two-time All-Ohio linebacker, helped lead the Wildcats to their 10th state title in 2008, and Tim, of course, was an All-Ohio force during last year’s drive to No. 11.

LaManna, who answered just about every challenge the Cardinals threw at him, was 26 of 40 through the air for 340 yards and five touchdowns.

In a game that saw six lead changes, the teams combined for more than 1,200 yards.

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