MOGADORE: There were plenty of heroes for Mogadore on Friday night during a 41-27 win over Villa Angela-St. Joseph in a Division VI, Region 19 quarterfinal game at Wildcat Stadium.
You could start with junior running back Brandon Berry, who carried 31 times for 267 yards and one touchdown.
But Mogadore’s linebackers, playing a new scheme designed to corral VA-SJ’s high-powered attack, recovered from a shaky first quarter and were dominant the rest of the way.
Seniors Bryce Huth, Justin Chew and Jeremy Hugg, along with juniors Dominik Pizzino and Danny Sentelik, were largely responsible for frustrating the Vikings, who came in having scored 30 or more points in nine of 10 games this season and featured big-play stars in quarterback Tre’von Williams and running back Marvelle Ross.
Huth also had two rushing touchdowns.
Chew had three tackles for loss, blocked an extra-point kick and forced a fumble.
Hugg had two tackles for loss and scooped up a Viking fumble and scored from 20 yards out.
Pizzino gave the Wildcats a two-touchdown lead when he returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
And Sentelik, normally a defensive end, dropped off the line and helped contain the speedy Ross and a dangerous runner in Malik Gully, as well.
Mogadore (10-1) led 28-21 at the half and scored quickly on the opening drive of the third quarter. Berry set up Huth’s 3-yard touchdown run with a 60-yard burst to the VA-SJ 5. The Wildcats led 34-21 at 11:12 of the third quarter.
Ross popped a 22-yard touchdown run for the Vikings (9-2) to make it 34-27 and that set the stage for Pizzino’s game-changing punt return.
The two teams combined for six touchdowns and were tied 21-21 after the first quarter. Villa Angela-St. Joseph’s Gully ran the opening kickoff back 81 yards for a score.
After the Wildcats’ offense stalled at the Viking 24, Chew forced a fumble and Hugg returned it for six points.
A 67-yard run by Williams set up a 16-yard touchdown run by Ross and a 14-7 VA-SJ lead. Mogadore marched back down the field as Berry broke off a 47-yard run and scored from 4 yards out to make it 14-14.
Villa Angela-St. Joseph scored on its next snap when Williams hooked up with wide receiver Tyler Cruickshank on a 67-yard catch and run for six points. Connor Gail kicked his third extra point, and the Vikings led 21-14.
Mogadore answered with a 54-yard drive capped by Huth’s 2-yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats adjusted defensively in the second quarter and came up with five tackles for loss. Mogadore took its first lead on running back Nathan Alexander’s 3-yard scoring run, which capped a 93-yard drive. Riley Jones added his fourth extra point and the Wildcats led 28-21 with 5:35 to go until halftime.