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 Tuesday June 18, 2024
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      Cardinal Mooney and Boardman staged a barn-burner at Spartan Stadium last Friday night, as the Cards outlasted the Spartans, 28-27, in overtime before 4500 fans. Mooney moved to 3-2 on the season, while Boardman dipped to 1-4.
      Crimping Boardman’s efforts in the game were a missed field goal, and the penalty flag.
      Boardman wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard when sophomore Terrance Thomas took Mike Scavina’s opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. A Tom Fryda PAT gave the Spartans a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.
      Mooney answered, staging a 12-play drive that culminated with a Zyere Rodgers 8-yard run at 6:42 of the first frame. Brian Philibin’s PAT knotted things up. Rodgers carried the ball seven times on the drive.
      Boardman’s first possession of the game began at their own 25 yard line and stalled on three, straight plays, as Cam Thompson couldn’t hold onto a second down Zach Ryan pass, and a third down pass by Ryan sailed high of its mark.
      Connor Miller punted the ball away on fourth down and his 44-yard boot gave Mooney the ball on their own 28 yard line.
      Facing second and eight, Rodgers, a sophomore, was belted by Isaac Land and Justin Wagner and fumbled. Wagner recovered to give Boardman the ball 35 yards from paydirt.
      On this possession, Wrentie Martin stood at quarterback for the Spartans, who were promptly called for illegal procedure and faced a first and 15. Sophomore tailback Sean O’Horo got the call on a direct snap and darted ten yards before he was taken to the ground by Mooney’s Mike Pastella.
      A Martin to Miller pass hook-up gave the Spartans a first down at the 13 yard line, and then Boardman got a break when the Cards were hit with an encroachment penalty and faced a third and 1. On that play, Martin fumbled the snap from center and recovered to force the Spartans into a fourth down, 26-yard field goal try. Fryda’s kick sailed wide left and Mooney escaped with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
      With action moving into the second quarter, Mooney faced a third and 11 near midfield, but had to punt when Boardman’s Justin Wagner put Card quarterback Pat Guerrieri to the turf on a third down run.
      The Spartans next possession ended when Ryan was stuffed by Cody Clegg and Guerrieri to force a Miller punt on fourth and 13.
      First half play ended, 7-7.
      Mooney’s had the ball first in the third quarter and staged an 80-yard drive that ended when Guerrieri connected with Scavina on a 35-yard scoring pass. A Philibin kick made it 14-7.
      Using short bursts from O’Horo, and aided by passes from Ryan to Thomas and Cam Thompson, Boardman faced a third and 1, and converted when O’Horo picked-up five yards for a first down at the Mooney 22 yard line. Two plays later, Ryan hit Thompson, who broke a tackle by Clegg and scrambled 12 yards into the end zone. Fryda’s PAT tied the game again, 14-14, with 20 seconds left in the third quarter to cap a nine play drive.
      Mooney took the ensuing kickoff out to the 45 yard line, but the nifty return by Al Pecchia was stymied when the Cards were hit with a holding call that moved the ball back to the 11 yard line.
      Facing a third and 4, Mooney called on Rodgers, who was taken down by O’Horo to force a punt.
      Scavina faced heavy pressure from the Spartans on the kick and Boardman got the ball back on the Mooney 38 yard line and surged downfield, keyed by five, straight runs from O’Horo. His fifth run put Boardman back in the lead with 8:24 left in the game.
      Mooney’s next possession began on the 19 yard line and didn’t get very far. On first down, Guerrieri was taken down by Rashie Garner. Facing a second and 7, Colin Rushen’s snap from center sailed past Guerrieri, who fell on the loose ball for a 13 yard loss. The Cards couldn’t overcome the miscue and punted and Boardman got the ball back at the Mooney 44 yard line with 6:34 left in the game.
      But the play was nullified when Boardman was hit with an illegal participation penalty that put the Cards into a fourth and 1 situation that they converted.
      A Guerrieri pass hook-up with Pastella gave the Cards a first down at the Boardman 31 yard line. When Garner put Guerrieri to the turf two plays later, Mooney faced a fourth and 3 at the 25 yard line with 3:20 left in the game. On the play, Isaac Land stuck Guerrieri to stop the Mooney thrust and Boardman maintained its 21-14 lead with 3:01 remaining.
      The Spartans took over and stayed on the ground, calling O’Horo’s number three straight plays. An Andrew Armile third down stop for the Cards forced a punt with 1:59 left.
      From this point on, officiating helped to determine the outcome.
      When Guerrieri tried a first down run, he was taken hard to the turf by Connor Miller. The play was flagged for a personal foul, moving the ball to the Boardman 40 yard line.
      After two incomplete passes, Guerrieri hit Joe Kordupel, who made a great fingertip catch to give the Cards a first down, 20 yards from the end zone, and from there, the Cardinal signalcaller fired a strike over the middle to a wide open Scavina for a touchdown to tie the game, 21-21, with 57 seconds left.
      Thompson’s kickoff return to the 33 yard line gave the Spartans a chance. Three plays later, Ryan hit Miller, who made a one-handed catch, with a lofty 41-yard aerial that gave Boardman a first down on the Mooney 11 yard line with 18 seconds left in the game.
      Ryan got behind center and waited until five seconds were left on the clock and spiked the ball to apparently stop the clock and set the stage for a game-winning field goal try by Fryda. But the official, head lineman Ron Sinchak, ruled wide receiver Thomas walked over the line of scrimmage, and back, for an encroachment call, and instead of taking the penalty, Mooney took the play. Officials reset the ball, started the clock and time expired, sending the game into overtime.
      Mooney got the first possession of the extra period and on their sixth play, Rodgers went over the goal line from three yards out. A Philibin PAT kick gave Mooney a seven point lead.
      Boardman answered in three plays, when O’Horo scored from a yard out, and the Spartans decided to go for two points and win the game. On the play, Miller was dropped a yard short of the end zone as Mooney claimed a 28-27 victory. On the play, a trio of Cardinals, Dino D’Alesio, Patella and Andrew Armile, broke through Boardman’s line blocker, Joe Sferra, to take Miller down.
      The officiating crew left the field under police escort.
      Much of the game featured the sophomore running backs of Rodgers and O’Horo. O’Horo finished as the game’s leading ground gainer, picking-up 125 yards on 23 carries. He also played most of the game on the defensive side of the ball.
      Spartan Head Coach Joe Ignazio noted “Sean ran the ball extremely well. He is a sophomore who has stepped up. He isn’t a big ‘rah-rah’ guy. He just gets it done. Our kids feed off of his toughness.
      “Our offensive line played well all night,” Ignazio said, lauding the performances of Tyler Utsinger, Dave Merdich, Ryan Henry, Anthony Micco and Joe Sferra, who gave O’Horo room to run.”
      Rodgers ended with 96 yards in 18 lugs, the first time this season he had been held to under 100 yards.
      Card Head Coach P.J. Fecko noted that “Zyere has done great job for us all year. He’s a very talented individual, but most importantly he’s a great team player.” The head coach also lauded the play of his offensive line, including Rushen, Carl Farina, Will Skretta, Kerri Kewlett ansd Louise Gentile.
      Mooney also used three tight ends in the game---Devon Jenkins, Pastella and Dino D’Alesio.
      “I’m pleased with the way our guys competed all evening and did a great job of staying focused, being patient and making plays,” Fecko said.
      Leading the defensive charges for Boardman was Garner with 11 solo takedowns, a pair of assists and a pair of sacks.
      “He was all over the field, all night,” Ignazio said.
      Also keying the Spartan defense was Miller with 9 hits and 6 assists, Zach Johnson with 7 hits and 3 assists, O’Horo with a takedown and 9 assists, and Wagner with 2 hits and 7 assists.
      Boardman lost 67 yards on seven penalties, and Mooney as hit with the flag five times for 30 yards.
      Guerrieri went 7 of 11 passing, good for 117 yards; while Ryan was 5 of 10 for 84 yards.
      Mooney held a 19-15 advantage in first downs, and a 335-249 margin in total offense.
      “We played well, just not well enough to win. Everyone wants to complain about referees, but that’s what happens when you put it in their hands. It never should have been. There were plays that could have been made prior to a few calls and we didn’t make them. We just kept giving them life. You let teams hang around long enough and eventually something falls their way,” Ignazio said.
      Boardman moves on to face Garfield Heights (2-3) in an away game this weekend.
      “They are a very athletic team. We need to be able to limit their skill in space. They have the ability to take it to the house on any given play,” Ignazio said.
      Garfield lost to Maple Heights, 64-20, last week.
      Mooney plays its first home game (at Stambaugh Stadium) this weekend, facing Youngstown East (3-2).
      “It’s going to be nice to be back home for the back half of the schedule… First five games where a bear being on the road traveling out of town as much as we did but it’s now behind us and we get to enjoy being home
      “East is a very dangerous football team ..they’re playing really good football right now and they can strike in so many different ways it makes them a very hard team to prepare for,” Fecko said.
       GAME NOTES: On the sidelines for the game was former Boardman High School, Miami University and Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who led the Spartans to their last unbeaten season in the 1980’s. Kosar, now 55, was a special guest during a pre-game social gathering honoring the newest inductees into the Boardman Booster Hall of Fame. Kosar gave a ‘thumbs-up’ when asked if current Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is ‘the real deal.’ He also touted his new holistic diet.....The officiating crew for the game---Ed Costello, referee; Vince Julian; umpire; Ron Sinchak, head lineman; and Gary Ditullio, line judge; and Gary Ditullio, back judge; left the field under police escort..... On Boardman’s final play in overtime, the Spartans tried an end sweep. One of Mooney’s starting defensive tackles, Carl Farina, had left the game with leg cramps.....
      PICTURED: CONNOR MILLER, 13, MADE A SPECTACULAR ONE-HAND GRAB at the 11 yard line to give Boardman hopes to break a 21-21 tie with a field goal try with 18 seconds left in the game last week in action against Cardinal Mooney. With the clock still ticking, Spartan quarterback Zach Ryan spiked the ball with five seconds left on the clock. But officials made an encroachment call on the spike, that Mooney declined, and the clock wound down to zero, to force overtime. Defending on the play is Mooney’s Michael Santisi, 9.
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