MOGADORE: Mogadore fans expect an extra home game every year with a first-round playoff game. They also expect a victory.
They enjoyed both Friday night.
The Wildcats scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to blow open a close game at halftime and easily defeat Steubenville Catholic Central 49-24 in the Division VI Region 21 quarterfinal at Wildcat Stadium.
With the victory, the Wildcats’ playoff record is 47-22 in 26 years of postseason play.
Wildcats coach Matt Adorni said the Crusaders represented a different type of challenge. Their quarterback, Brenton Colabella, finished 33-of-52 for 304 yards and three touchdowns and one interception, that by Justin Chew.
“We have not seen a team like that since we played Woodridge,” Adorni said. “[Colabella] has a quick release. A lot of people say, ‘You have to get a big rush on him,’ but it seems like you can’t all the time so you have to mix things up on him.”
The Crusaders’ spread offense was no match for the Wildcats’ two-back, running attack of Gary Strain and Brandon Berry.
“We were really proud of our offensive line. They were not firing off the line like that had been earlier in the year,” Adorni said. “We really challenged those guys tonight and Brandon Berry, and they responded.”
Strain rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Berry had 103 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
Leading 14-6 at halftime, the offensive line blew away the Crusaders’ defense, opening huge chunks of land for Strain and Berry. The Wildcats also had two big kickoff returns by Jake Cramer.
“We got fired up at halftime and just came out and took it to them,” Strain said.
First, it was Berry scoring from 11 yards out to make it 21-6 after a 31-yard kickoff return by Cramer. Doug Maslowski of the Crusaders countered with a 40-yard run, but Catholic Central failed on the 2-point conversion.
A 51-yard kickoff return by Cramer set up Strain’s second touchdown, this one from 2 yards out. He came back moments later with his third touchdown from 6 yards out.
Chew then returned an interception 51 yards to set up Berry’s third touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Mogadore (11-0) did not punt until five minutes were left in the game.
The Wildcats scored on their first possession, going 64 yards in five plays. Strain broke three tackles running up the middle during his 39-yard touchdown run, and Riley Jones’ extra point put them ahead 7-0 with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders (6-5) took advantage of the Wildcats’ secondary playing off the receivers.
Colabella methodically drove the Crusaders down the field in 12 plays, covering 79 yards and finishing with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Carapellotti with 11:11 remaining in the second quarter. But Strain blocked the extra-point kick to keep Mogadore ahead 7-6.
Three minutes later, the Wildcats went ahead 14-6 on a 15-yard run up the middle by Berry.
The Wildcats had 179 yards rushing in the first half, Strain with 144 of those yards.
The Wildcats will play Berlin Center Western Reserve, a 19-16 winner over Shadyside, at 7:30 Friday night at a site to be announced Sunday.
“This is the team we have to go through if we want to go anywhere,” Adorni told the Wildcats after the game.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.