Backup QB is key to Warriors victory
Nico Mrvos is not a quarterback.
He’s really not.
Or is he?
“I don’t know what I am honestly,” Mrvos said laughing. “I just go out there and play and do it for the team.”
He may not be a quarterback by the strictest definition, but when the Elizabeth Forward senior took snaps in the pistol formation, he was the best playmaker the Warriors had and the one player Mount Pleasant couldn’t contain.
Splitting time with freshman Vernon Settles to fill in for injured starting quarterback Evan Lewis, Mrvos ran for one touchdown and passed for another to lead WPIAL Class 3A No. 3- ranked Elizabeth Forward ( 5- 0, 4- 0) to a 16- 14 victory at No. 5 Mount Pleasant ( 4- 2, 4- 1) to take over sole possession of first place in the Interstate Conference.
“Vernon took a bunch of reps all week and I sort of have a 1- 2 punch with Nico Mrvos going in at quarterback with Vern,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike Collodi said. “I’m confident in both of them. That’s why Vern’s out there. Even though he’s a freshman, he’s shown us he can do it.”
Settles played the entire first quarter, but with Elizabeth Forward facing a fourth- and- 1 at its 30 on the first play of the second quarter, it was Mrvos calling the signals.
And he was up to the big- play challenge.
Mrvos took the direct snap, went up the middle, cut to the left and outraced the Mount Pleasant defense for a 70- yard touchdown that stunned the Vikings.
“In film study, when we spread out their defense, the middle of their defense opened wide up,” Mrvos said. “They called the play, I read the linebacker and, as soon as I saw it open up, I ran for the touchdown. It was fun.”
It was a drastic early turn events for Mount Pleasant.
After the opening kickoff the Vikings put together a drive against an Elizabeth Forward defense that had allowed only 20 of points in its first five games to a first- and- goal at the Warriors 5. That drive stalled when a fumbled snap and a holding penalty led to a turnover on downs on a fourthandgoal from the 30.
“You can’t make mistakes against a good team like that, and we thought we had a good plan and we were rolling and we set ourselves back,” Mount Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said.
On the next Mount Pleasant drive, the team again moved inside the Elizabeth Forward 30 but quarterback Asher O’Connor threw an interception that stopped the drive.
“My hat goes off to Coach Fzekas because they were doing things we hadn’t seen on film,” Collodi said. “We prepared for one thing all week and they came out and did something completely different and, they got us and we had to make our adjustments.”
Their best adjustment was putting Mrvos at quarterback.
After that interception, Mrvos capped the drive with his 70- yard touchdown run. He finished with 14 carries for 140 yards and the score. He also helped put the game away early in the fourth quarter when, after the Vikings Aaron Alakson scored on a 49- yard run on the final play of the third quarter to close the gap to 10- 7 he completed his first pass attempt of the game for a 67- yard touchdown to Zach Boyd just 1: 17 later to answer.
At that point it looked for all intents and purposes the game was over. Mount Pleasant turned the ball over on downs and had an interception that gave Elizabeth Forward the ball at the Vikings 40 with 4: 17 left. But on first down from the 23, DaVontay Brownfield fumbled and Tyler Reese gave Mount Pleasant life as he raced 85 yards for the touchdown to close the gap to 16- 14 with 2: 29 remaining in regulation.
Mount Pleasant failed to recover the onside kick and, with a third- and- 10 from the Vikings 44, Mrvos put it away with a 34- yard scamper.
“Man, that came down to the wire,” Collodi said. “That was an exciting high school football game right there.”
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