Coming into the game, Strongsville had to be feeling fairly confident. The Mustangs had played two strong games while the Titans were coming off a lopsided loss last week to Columbus DeSales. No one knew what effect that loss might have on the Titans but, unfortunately for the Mustangs, itwas a good one.
The game had barely begun when Mother Nature raised her ugly head in the form of lightning and rain and the game had to be delayed with neither team having scored. After an approximate delay of 45 minutes the game resumed with the Titans wasting little time in putting points on the board.
The big play that set up the first Titan touchdown was a long sidelong pass from senior quarterback, Rick Rattay, to wide receiver Mike Weiher. Weiher’s 40-yard reception allowed Dajon Booth to scamper the remaining 5 yards for a touchdown. After a Mike Noward kick, the Titans led 7-0.
Within seconds of the Titan touchdown, the rain and lightning commenced again and this time with much more enthusiasm. For three and a half hours, the outlook for completing the game was not encouraging but shortly before 11 pm the weather improved considerably and the teams were able to finish the game without further interference from the weather in any form.
In the second quarter the Strongsville offense finally began to click. Taking advantage of some long running plays and some key penalties against the Titans, Mustang quarterback John Hamilton, directed his team to the Titan eight-yard line where senior running back, Eric Stoyanoff, was able to run the ball into the end zone. A kick conversion by Nate Frees tied the game at 7-7.
A few minutes later Strongsville took its first lead of the night. Through a good balance of running and passing, and several more big penalties against the Titans, the Mustangs were able to cap a sustained drive by scoring their second touchdown on a 3-yard plunge by Stoyanoff. Less than a minute later, however, the Mustang lead disappeared.
The Strongsville kicking game is strong and, following the Mustang’s second touchdown, the Titans found themselves facing first and ten at their own 20 yard line but Rattay used the opportunity to race 80 yards for a game-tying touchdown. A successful conversion made the score 14-14.
On the ensuing kickoff the Titans received a break when the Mustang’s failed to field the ball cleanly and the Titans’ kicking team swarmed the ball carrier deep in Strongsville territory. The Mustang offense stalled and they were forced to punt and the opportunistic Titans took advantage of the situation. Titan senior Andrew Schaetzke broke through the Mustang offensive line and cleanly blocked the punt which bounced into the end zone and then out of bounds for a Titan safety.
In the first half’s remaining minutes, each team had a possession but could do nothing with it and the long half ended with the Titans holding on to a perilous 16-14 lead. A new day and a second half awaited the teams as the clock struck midnight.
The second half saw a little bit of everything. The penalty fest between the two teams continued with both teams finding inopportune occasions to shoot themselves in the foot by committing foolish penalties. Deflected passes and unintended receivers catching passes for big gains and more turnovers than either head coach could have been happy with.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, however, scoring points was to prove difficult. The third quarter was scoreless for both teams but early in the fourth quarter the Mustangs took their last lead of the game as the strong foot of Nate Freese gave Strongsville their last lead of the game at 17-16. Freese’s 29 yard field goal came after a sustained drive by the Mustang offense that showed great promise but the Titan defense finally tightened at the sixteen and the Mustangs would have to settle for the three pointer.
On their ensuing possession the Titans orchestrated their longest possession of the night that ultimately resulted in a beautifully executed pass play from quarterback Rick Rattay to MikeWeiher. The 38 yard pass play gave the Titans a 22-17 lead and the Titan coaching staff elected to go for two on the subsequent conversion.
The initial St. John’s conversion attempt was stopped successfully at the line of scrimmage but flags flew as the Mustangs celebrated their success. The line judge determined that one of the Mustang defenders had grabbed a face mask in his attempt to stop the Titan running back and so the Titans were rewarded with a second chance that they took advantage of to go up 24-17.
In the remaining seven minutes the Mustangs tried desperately to tie the score but penalties and turnovers proved to numerous to overcome and the pumped up Titan defense too tough. Finally, in the closing two minutes a desperation attempt by the Mustangs to get back in the game resulted in a interception by Titan lineman Tim Kynard that Kynard carried into the end zone for a game clinching touchdown that provided the Titans with a 30-17 advantage.
Following the game an excited but tired Titan coach Doug Pearson lauded his players’ efforts. “Strongsville is a great program and this is a big win. I thought we came out at the pre-game with great focus, the best focus that we had all year and it proved to be the difference.”