SOLON: Mentor was the No. 2-ranked Division I team in the state and played like it in a second-round 43-0 win over Stow on Saturday night at Solon High School.
The Cardinals took a 40-0 lead at halftime, led by the dynamic performance of senior quarterback Conner Krizancic.
Krizancic did it all in the first half, heading into the locker room with three rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown already under his belt.
The game was won and lost in the trenches, as Mentor’s gigantic defensive line had Stow quarterback Andy Wargo under pressure all night, and Stow’s defensive line had no leverage against the Mentor offensive line, leaving Krizancic all the time in the world to operate. The Cardinals (11-1) racked up 500 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs’ 149.
“We couldn’t get much pressure on the quarterback,” Stow coach Mark Nori said. “It’s tough to hold up in coverage when he’s got time to throw. He’s a talented athlete, obviously, a great quarterback, and if he’s got time to throw, he’s going to pick us apart.”
The Bulldogs (10-2) received the opening kickoff and actually had some momentum on offense, as a 27-yard pass from Wargo to Jake Flinn and a 13-yard pass to Jonte Pooler put the Bulldogs in Cardinals territory.
That was the last of the momentum for the Bulldogs.
The drive came to an end when a Wargo pass was intercepted by Kiyah Powell, and it was all Mentor from there.
The Cardinals didn’t need any tricks to put up points, but used one anyway to score first.
From Stow’s 10-yard line, Krizancic threw a backward screen to running back Eddie Daugherty. Krizancic then split out and Daugherty hit him for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Stow continued to be plagued by first-half turnovers, and Mentor continued to capitalize on them. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times in the first half on three interceptions and a fumble.
The second-round loss is the farthest Stow has advanced in the playoffs since 1988.
“I’m just so proud of my guys,” Nori said. “I just told them that they’ve got nothing to hang their heads about. They’re not going to be remembered for this loss, they’re going to be remembered for what they did this season and for this program. That will be a mark that will be at that school for the rest of their lives.”