big plays and a great defensive effort, to turn a 6-0
defensive struggle at halftime into a 41-13 conquest of Mayfield in a
Division II state semifinal at Bedford’s Bearcat Stadium. The Leopards, making their 10th playoff appearance, advance to their first state final. Louisville was also a state semifinalist in 1992.
big plays and a great defensive effort, to turn a 6-0 defensive struggle at halftime into a 41-13 conquest of Mayfield in a Division II state semifinal at Bedford’s Bearcat Stadium.
The Leopards, making their 10th playoff appearance, advance to their first state final. Louisville will face Cincinnati Anderson next Friday at 7 p.m. at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Leopards were also state semifinalists in 1992.
Louisville’s defense played at the top of its game all night long, holding Mayfield’s Ashante Williams, a University of Illinois recruit, to only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries. The unit also pestered Mayfield quarterback Frankie Ferritto all night, sacking him eight times.
Leopards head coach Paul Farrah felt that limiting Williams’ carries was key.
“He caught two passes. If he’s catching passes and not running the ball, we did our job,” Farrah said. “I think we held him down well running the football.”
Louisville’s Matt Schooley felt his defense came into this game underappreciated compared to Mayfield’s.
“I feel we have one of the most underrated defenses in Ohio,” Schooley said. “A lot of people focused more on Mayfield. We came to the challenge that we weren’t gonna let Williams beat us at all. We all played our assignments perfectly and we gave all we could for each other.”
Mayfield’s defense was getting most of the attention prior to the game. The Wildcats came into the contest allowing less than 10 points per game, less than six points during the playoffs and owners of five shutouts. However, the Leopard offense, led by junior Neil Seaman, managed 368 yards of offense and 41 points.
The majority of the yards and points came in the second half.
After a first half that saw more punts then points, Louisville was able to come out and started the offensive fireworks.
“We made adjustments at halftime on how to block our zone a little different,” Farrah said. “I think the biggest thing was that Neil finally got on fire, because he didn’t have a good first half then he fired it up.”
The first major strike came from the Leopard special teams.
Ahead 6-0 at halftime, Louisville’s Jon Minster took the opening kickoff of the second half 88 yards for a touchdown. That splash started the wave.
After holding the Wildcats to a three-and-out, Louisville got the ball back and the offense behind Seaman went to work. The Leopards went on a 5-play 69-yard drive that Seaman capped with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Jones. Louisville led 19-0.
As with any team that reaches Week 14, Mayfield didn’t quit. Unable to get their star Williams free on the ground, the Wildcats took to the air.
Ferritto connected with Williams for a 61-yard touchdown pass to get Mayfield on the scoreboard. On the next Wildcat possession, the two would reverse roles, as Williams on a halfback option pass play, threw to Ferritto for a 37-yard gain deep inside Louisville territory. Three plays later, Williams got in the end zone with a one yard plunge that cut the Leopard lead to 19-13.
Louisville was able to counter the momentum swing with another big play. After driving to the Mayfield 32 yard line, their drive appeared to stall as the punt team came out on fourth down. However, the Leopards raced to the line, and the punter Brandon Mathie took the snap and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Bob Swigert, lifting Louisville’s lead back up to 27-13 and seemingly taking the wind out of the Mayfield sails.
The Leopard defense would turn away two more Mayfield scoring chances on interceptions, one by Mathie and one by Swigert. Clay Swigert would ice the game with two touchdown runs of 5 and 80 yards to give Louisville the 41-13 victory.
Although having already cemented a place in Louisville lore, running back Marcus Poyser said the Leopards are looking for more.
“We’re not done yet,” Poyser said. “Until next week is over, we’re not done.”