Coldwater shocks Youngstown Cardinal Mooney; Cavs upset nationally-ranked Cardinals

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Coldwater’s Kurt Schlarman

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney now knows how Goliath felt. Midwest Athletic Conference and Mercer County schools have long put their stamp on the state football championships, but Saturday in the Division IV state final at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Coldwater recorded one of the conference’s, county’s and state’s biggest upsets ever with a 28-27 victory over nationally-ranked and undefeated Cardinal Mooney.


MASSILLON – Youngstown Cardinal Mooney now knows how Goliath felt.

Midwest Athletic Conference and Mercer County schools have long put their stamp on the state football championships, but Saturday in the Division IV state final at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Coldwater recorded one of the conference’s, county’s and state’s biggest upsets ever with a 28-27 victory over nationally-ranked and undefeated Cardinal Mooney.

Mooney, the consensus D-IV favorite all season long and the defending state champion making its fourth straight appearance in the state final, entered the game No. 8 in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings. The Cardinals senior class has players committed to Penn State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Ohio State is after one of its juniors.

Coldwater didn’t care.

“We came here to win,” Coldwater head coach John Reed said. “You can’t be influenced by what other people are going to think or say. You have to believe in yourself.

“You know we live over on the other side of Ohio and we really don’t know about the Mooney mystique and all of that. We really don’t. We played them two years ago and we were able to play them tough. We we’re confident we’d come here and play them tough again. We didn’t say we were going to win, but we came here to win.”

“Our guys performed all year and played at such a high level and today was no different,” Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko said. “We put forth a ton of effort and definitely battled hard. Unfortunately we came up on the short end of the scoreboard. Coldwater should be congratulated for pulling it out.”

Playing inspired football after a lackluster first half, the Cavaliers rallied from a 21-7 deficit after three quarters and scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth to take a 28-21 lead with 2:41 left. The Cavs scored on a reverse pass from Keith Wenning to Ryan Geier and then set-up their next score with another trick play, this one a double-pass from Wenning to Tony Harlamert that set up first and goal at the 1 yard line. Coldwater’s final score followed a Mooney fumble.

The Cavs still had to withstand a late Mooney charge which resulted in a touchdown with 21 seconds left. Coldwater’s Kurt Schlarman blocked the extra-point and Adam Homan recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure the monumental upset.

Of course, those from Coldwater and the rest of Mercer County and the MAC may be asking, what’s the fuss?

The state championship, coupled with Marion Local’s yesterday, marks the MAC’s sixth state title in three years. Since 1998, MAC schools have taken home hardware 12 times. The Coldwater student section filled the stadium with chants of “M-A-C, M-A-C” following the game.

“It’s a special place,” Reed said. “We feel very privileged to come from where we are. Somebody asked me before hand why are there so many successful teams that come out that area? People in Mercer County and Auglaize County expect a great deal from themselves and their children. You don’t build anything as a coach without a successful foundation and these kids come to us with great foundations.”

Mooney found that out the hard way.

Despite being the odds-on favorite and looking like it would roll to victory after a 14-0 first quarter, Mooney made some uncharacteristic mistakes. The Cardinals were penalized 11 times in the game for 94 yards and committed three turnovers.

Running back Brandon Beachum, headed to Penn State , led the Mooney rushing attack with 191 yards on 34 carries but managed just 73 yards in the second half. Quarterback Tim Marlowe, filling in for the injured Danny McCarthy (Notre Dame), rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries and completed 5-of-6 passes for 135 yards and two TDs, both to senior Mike Gemma.

The Cardinals had 432 yards of offense.

Coldwater countered with 353 yards, including 254 in the second half.

The Cavs only rushed for 53 yards, but junior quarterback Cory Klenke completed 16-of-37 passes for 185 yards and a TD. Back-up QB Wenning threw for 115 yards on the two reverse passes.

Harlamert finished with 178 total yards, including 126 on eight catches, while Geier had 134 yards and two TDs on four catches. The offensive line did not allow a sack against Mooney’s vaunted front seven.

The state title was Coldwater’s second in three years and second over Mooney. The Cavs also beat the Cardinals in the 2005 D-IV final at Canton ’s Fawcett Stadium. That loss was Mooney’s last until Saturday.

“We have the utmost respect for Cardinal Mooney, we really do,” Reed said. “We respect everybody we play and we talk about that all the time. We talk about respect everybody but fear nobody and that’s sincere.”

Said Coldwater senior linebacker/fullback Tyler Kunk: “I think we all just gave a little bit extra. We dug down as deep as we could and I think we had a little bit more left than what they did.”

Added classmate Kyle Ahrens: “They’re high school kids too.”

 

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