Mentor cruises to second straight Division I regional championship, 49-14 over Medina

MENTOR, Ohio — Ian Kipp had a hunch his Mentor football teammates could play as well as they did Friday night to win an OHSAA regional championship on their home field.

They are not strangers to this stage, and it showed in the form of a 49-14 win against Medina in the Division I, Region 1 final at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium.

“To go out with a running clock on our home field that we’ve been playing on for 10 years, it’s huge,” Kipp said. “It’s huge to go out like that.”

The senior quarterback scored six times, including two rushing touchdowns and four TD passes. He connected on 12 of 16 attempts for 196 yards, hitting junior Evan Harper on two of them, while rushing for another 66 yards on 10 carries.

Mentor (9-1), ranked second in this week’s Top 25, advances to the state semifinals for a third time in four years. They will likely play Pickerington Central at a site to be determined. The OHSAA will announce pairings next week after the Tigers, who beat Mentor in last year’s state semifinals, ran away from Westerville Central, 38-7. Springfield beat Olentangy Liberty, 19-0, and Cincinnati St. Xavier edged Lakota West, 10-7, in the other regional finals across the state.

To join that final four, the Cardinals beat a Medina team that took down top-seeded St. Edward and St. Ignatius the previous two weeks. Mentor beat the Bees (6-4) in Week 1, 37-19, and took plenty from that outcome into their rematch.

“We knew we couldn’t blitz them,” Mentor coach Matt Gray said. “They get the ball out too quickly with the quarterback back so deep.”

So, they used a three-man bull rush to wear down Medina’s offensive line.

It worked, but a fumble on Medina’s opening possession and a second one with the Bees driving to tie the score did more damage.

“Those are things we can control, and we lost control of those,” Medina coach Larry Laird said. “Those fumbles in the first half changed the whole first half of that football game. We had to abandon the running game because we fell behind.”

Medina’s opening fumble led to Kipp finding Harper on a 12-yard scoring pass. The teams traded scores until Kipp hit Harper again on a 60-yard strike early in the second quarter for a 21-14 lead. The play immediately answered a Medina touchdown.

With the Bees driving again, they reached the 11-yard line before a fumbled snap. Mentor cornerback Eriq Martemus scooped it up.

Medina never scored again. Mentor didn’t punt until its lead grew to the final score with a running clock in the fourth quarter.

“It was huge,” Kipp said, “especially going into the game, thinking we were going to have that offense scoring on us. To have them turn it over twice and we capitalized on it was huge.”

Laird blamed his team’s execution, not its effort.

Junior quarterback Drew Allar, who threw for more than 400 yards in the first half last week against St. Ignatius, finished with 280 yards and a TD toss on 15-of-40 passing. Dorian Boyland rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries with a tying TD in the first quarter, but he didn’t touch the football in the second half as Medina tried to play catchup facing a 35-14 deficit.

The bull rushing, which included the return of sophomore Brenan Vernon, pushed Allar out of the pocket throughout the night. If Vernon didn’t reach Allar, seniors Greg Predina or Preston Cardina sometimes did.

“It was a fine detail of our defensive coaching staff identifying it,” Gray said. “Instead of going wide against them because they play the quarterback so deep, let’s bull rush and go right through them. That really wore them down as this night went through.”

The seniors celebrated with the regional championship trophy and put on a performance to make former coach Steve Trivisonno, who showed up on the sideline, proud.

“It was great to see him,” said Gray, whose wife, Sarah, gave birth to a daughter earlier this week. “He means so much to this program and me, myself, personally. It was so awesome and special to see him.”

Emotions ran high for Gray.

Kipp took it in, his last game at the JTO, with a look ahead to next week. Pickerington Central beat the Cardinals last year, 28-21.

“It doesn’t matter who we play next,” Kipp said. “We just have to come to practice with our heads down and get to work. We’re just trying to get another week.”

Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email ([email protected]).


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