NEW PHILADELPHIA: Mogadore’s perfect dream and perfect season came to an end Friday night as the Wildcats played well but fell to Newark Catholic 38-21 at a cold, windy Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium in a Division VI state semifinal.
Coach Matt Adorni was adamant in postgame speeches throughout the playoffs about playing a great game in the state semifinal instead of “laying an egg” and looking forward to the title game. His team came through but fell short.
“I don’t believe we played that poorly, I just think they were a little bit better than us tonight,” Adorni said. “They made no mistakes. They played a perfect game. Hats off to them, there’s not much you can say.
“We played great all year, it’d be a shame to lay down and we didn’t lay down.”
Mogadore (13-1) did play well. Running back Gary Strain ran for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries, meaning he ran for more than 200 yards in all four of Mogadore’s playoff games. Senior Jake Cramer, returning from a concussion, ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. The Wildcats also didn’t turn the ball over despite less-than-ideal conditions.
Newark Catholic (12-2) was just a little faster, played a little better and got off to a much better start. The Green Wave’s spread attack, combined with a power running game and athletic quarterback Chayce Crouch, gave Mogadore’s defense fits. After not allowing a team to score more than 28 points all season, Mogadore’s defense gave up 24 points in the first half on only four possessions.
“They were just so difficult to stop,” Adorni said. “We tried everything — man, zone, different looks on defense. It was a guessing game earlier trying to mix man and zone. They were picking us apart a bit.”
Crouch completed 10-of-13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the first half and added another 35 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He also kicked a 36-yard field goal.
“I think they were really, really talented at a lot of positions and they can hurt you in a lot of ways,” Adorni said. “They can spread the field and then bring in three new guys and run the ball. You don’t see that in Division VI.”
That attack resulted in a 24-7 halftime advantage.
Then Adorni turned to his star running back.
On the next two drives, Strain carried the ball on 18 of Mogadore’s 26 plays and scored two touchdowns. That cut Newark Catholic’s lead to 24-21 with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.
“We came back and fought hard in the third quarter, that’s what we asked them to do,” Adorni said. “It wasn’t a typical game for us, coming from behind and having to make a lot of big throws.”
Newark Catholic senior Kevin Bourne put the Green Wave ahead by 10 points with a 29-yard touchdown run with 7:59 to go. That forced the Wildcats to pass the ball. After Mogadore turned the ball over on downs at its 44-yard line, Crouch ended the game with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Bourne, the duo’s second touchdown connection of the night.
The Wildcats were the No. 1 seed and the favorite to win the Division VI title. Adorni says his players dealt with the pressure of that well.
“They had a lot of pressure all season long, being the league favorite by a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of people told me we were the No. 1 team in the region and had to go out and prove that. We have 13 wins no one can take from us and I’m proud to be their coach.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.