Too much talent
That could be the phrase being thrown around by fans leaving Solon’s Stewart Field last night after watching the Division II state semi-final game between Nordonia and Mayfield, A Week 1 36-35 Nordonia win set the stage for the rematch, in a game that was highly anticipated by fans of high school football in the Cleveland area. Both teams survived brutal regional games, and made it through to face off for a trip to the state final next Friday in Columbus. Fans of both teams figured that they would get four quarters of competitive football between two great teams
What they got was about a half
Nordonia took control in the second half, scoring on two long scoring plays on their first two possessions, breaking open a close game, and defeating Mayfield 52-14. It was the fourth straight playoff game in which the Knights have put up 50 or more points.
It was Mayfield that got on the board first. Behind the passing of Wildcat quarterback Mario Monastero, Mayfield drove to the Nordonia 4 yard line. It was there that Monastero found Gage Bican in the endzone, giving Mayfield a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Nordonia would rattle off the next 21 points behind the hard running of Anthony Perrine and the arm of quarterback David Murray to burst out to a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter. Mayfield, as they have shown time and time again in these state playoffs, would fight back. They started feeding their star tailback Andy Isabella. Isabella took a screen pass from Monastero and took it 56 yards to the house, trimming the lead to 21-14. After stopping Nordonia, Mayfield got the ball back with three minutes left in the half with a chance to tie the game.
It was THE big momentum shift of the game
Nordonia’s defense forced a three and out, and the Knights took over on their own 13 yard line with just over two minutes remaining in the half. That is too much time for an offense as explosive as Nordonia’s. Murray led the Knights down the field and connected with Chase Ryba from 39 yards out on a beautiful catch in the endzone, extending the Nordonia lead to 28-14 heading into the break.
The Knights would remove all doubt with their first two drives of the second half
Receiving the ball to start the third quarter, in was the feet of Murray, and not his arm, that got the Knights into the endzone. The senior quarterback scampered 56 yards on a read-option, extending the lead to 35-14. In a quote to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, head coach Jeff Fox explained the importance of that run:
That was a big play and kind of set the tone that we were going to pull away with this thing.
Nordonia’s offense was just getting warmed up. On their next possession Murray connected with Dylan Mabin from 57 yards out, extending the lead to 42-14. Then, on maybe the prettiest play of the night, Murray hit Ohio State recruit Denzel Ward on a flanker screen. Ward turned on the jets and outran the Mayfield defense on a 92 yard scoring play. BAM. just like THAT, it was 49-14. The Knights had scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the half, on drives that lasted a minute and 36 seconds, 34 seconds, and 18 seconds. Talk about explosive. This wasn’t a 2-8 team they were doing this against. It was MAYFIELD. In the state semi-final!
Mayfield head coach Larry Pinto was left more than impressed by the performance of Nordonia:
They were awesome tonight. They have a great chance of winning a state title.
The final numbers tell the tale:
- The Nordonia offense gained an amazing 578 yards of offense
- The defense held Mayfield to just 150 total yards
- David Murray was 13-16 passing for 391 yards and 5 touchdowns
- Mayfield’s Andy Isabella was held to just 43 yards on 12 carries
It was a dominating performance in all phases of the game
Who is next for Nordonia?
Arguably the best team in the state regardless of division. The Lancers of Cincinnati La Salle. How good is La Salle? They won their semi-final 48-13 against previously undefeated Lewis Center Olentangy. They pounded Cincinnati Moeller, a team playing in the Division I semi-final for a trip to Columbus 34-9. Many people expected La Salle to play for a state championship, not many people expected for Nordonia to do the same.
It isn’t about what people think. It’s about what the kids on the team think, and this Nordonia team believes they can win. They are talented, explosive on both sides of the ball, and very well coached.
Nordonia and La Salle will be the best matchup in all seven of the state of Ohio’s divisions next weekend.
Next Friday, at 7 p.m. at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, one of these two teams will earn the right to be called “State Champions”