Mentor recovers pooch kicks in third quarter, leading to TDs that put the game out of reach
Mentor’s Noah Potter celebrates during the Cardinals’ 36-6 victory over Canton McKinley in a Division I regional semifinal on Nov. 9. The Cardinals advance to face St. Edward next week.
BRUNSWICK >> A steady snow fell at Brunswick’s Auto Mart Stadium on Nov. 9.
But it was one particular flurry of activity at the beginning of the third quarter that allowed the Mentor football team to put away Canton McKinley in a Division I regional semifinal.
Mentor recovered a pair of pooch kicks to start the third quarter, scored touchdowns after both of them, and rode that momentum to a 36-6 win over the Bulldogs.
The Cardinals (11-1) advance to the regional championship game Nov. 16 to play St. Edward.
The Eagles defeated Euclid, 56-35, in the other regional semifinal Nov. 9.
“We caught them on both,” Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno said. “Luckily they didn’t get to the one by our bench, and they dropped the other. You take advantage of them, come down and score on both of them and turn the game around quickly.”
Mentor was holding a 17-6 lead at the half and kicking to McKinley to start the third.
But the ball caromed off the chest of the Bulldogs’ return man, and the Cardinals recovered.
Sophomore Ian Kipp cashed in on a 24-yard touchdown run a handful of plays later for a 23-6 lead.
On the ensuing pooch kick, McKinley didn’t cover the ball in time and the Cardinals recovered.
This time it was Varney Spansel capitalizing, going in from 31 yards out for a 30-6 lead.
Just like that, any momentum McKinley (9-3) hoped to get in the third quarter had evaporated with a 14-0 Mentor run with the Bulldogs’ offense yet to take a second-half snap.
“They’re too good of a
team to make mistakes like that,” said McKinley coach Dan Reardon of the two second-half pooch kicks recovered by Mentor.
If the two pooch kicks didn’t take McKinley out of the game, then Mentor’s 17-play, 90-yard drive after McKinley’s first offensive series of the second half did the trick. That score, Spansel’s second plunge of the game, made it a 36-6 lead and necessitated a running clock the rest of the game.
It was a close game early on. After Connor McIntosh gave Mentor a 3-0 lead with a 41-yard field goal to start the game, McKinley took a 6-3 lead when Alijah Curtis hit Lameir Garrett for a two-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and goal.
But Mentor them put on a clinic of fourth-down play-calling. On the next drive, facing fourth down from near midfield, Kipp faked to Brian Trobel and
went 46 yards down to the McKinley 1-yard line. Trobel then took it in for a 10-6 lead.
McKinley never recovered — or scored again. Mentor scored 33 unanswered points to close out the game.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well in the first half,” Reardon said. “We just didn’t finish drives.”
Mentor outgained McKinley, 357-212. Kipp ran for 113 yards, with Trobel (75) and Spansel (74) not far behind.
Kipp also threw for 77 yards.
“I feel I’m pretty close to 100 percent,” said Kipp, who missed three games late in the regular season with a sprained shoulder. “But I know I can get better.”
Curtis threw for 145 yards and a score for McKinley, but the Bulldogs only averaged 2.2 yards per carry (30 carries, 67 yards)
and had trouble with Mentor’s front seven, especially Ohio State recruit Noah Potter and James Pedley.
Reardon lauded Mentor’s line play, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
“Give Mentor a heck of a lot of credit,” he said. “They’re a very good football team. They are huge up front and have big players going to big places — and you saw why.”
Trivisonno lamented early mistakes and penalties, but was happy with how his team bounced back from what he felt was a slow start.
“We’ve got to come of the bus better next time,” Trivisonno said.
That “next time” will be for a regional championship and a state final four berth against a St. Edward team the Cardinals defeated in the season opener, 42-39.
Mentor’s Ian Kipp runs past the Canton McKinley defense Nov. 9.
Mentor defenders including Billy Gorka (27) and Jackson Paglio (41) celebrate during the Cardinals’ victory over Canton McKinley on Nov. 9.