MAYFIELD — Elyria’s chance to play in Week 11 blew away in the wind and rain Friday night.
For the Pioneers to clinch a spot in the Division I playoffs, they needed to beat the Wildcats and hope for some help. Elyria got the assist, and can only blame itself for not holding up its end of the bargain.
Mayfield (6-4) came away with a 31-21 victory over the Pioneers, who finished 7-3 for the second straight year. The loss also knocked Elyria out of a three-way tie for first in the Northeast Ohio River Division.
“We definitely put ourselves in a hole,” coach Kevin Fell said. “We go three-and-out and we have to call a timeout to punt the ball. Then we snap it over his head. That’s a cheap one.
“The one problem was the terrible wind and we just couldn’t play against it.”
The start and end of the first half doomed the Pioneers and a 91-yard kick return to start the second half pretty much put to rest any hopes at all. The fact Elyria managed to score 21 points in 5:28 in the third quarter only teased the small but hearty fans that made the trek.
Here’s how it unfolded:
After the first series, punter Jordan Connell fell on the bad snap to set up Mayfield at Elyria’a 5-yard line just 1:16 into the game. The Wildcats quickly scored to go up 7-0 and they added a second score in the quarter to lead 14-0.
Mayfield’s last possession of the first half put it ahead 21-0 with just 17.5 seconds left, and slippery junior Anthony Canganelli began the second half with a 91-yard return down the Mayfield sideline for a 28-0 advantage.
Poor tackling all night and the special teams blunders were simply too much to overcome. Canganelli did his best imitation of Jim Brown as he bobbed and weaved his way through Elyria’s defense to total 235 rushing yards. If that weren’t enough, three-year starting senior quarterback Drazen Markovich ran for 149 as Mayfield shredded the Pioneers for more than 400 on the ground. It didn’t help that one of Elyria’s key defenders — senior linebacker Shawn Masterson — was suspended from school earlier in the day.
“We couldn’t stop the run,” Fell said. “We’re just not strong enough in certain areas. We’ll have to work a little harder and get a little bigger and stronger.
“I was impressed with their quarterback. He was faster than all get out and made the right decisions. I was impressed with 22 (Canganelli). He dragged us all over the field.”
Even with all that going against it, with the wind at its back, Elyria managed to rally within a touchdown in the third quarter. After Canganelli’s return, the Pioneers put together a six-play, 70-yard drive with sophomore quarterback Hunter Parsh hitting senior wideout Da’Jaun Glover in stride for a 28-yard strike with 10:43 left in the third quarter.
Senior Paul Males then recovered a fumble to give Elyria the ball right back at Mayfield’s 35-yard line, and Parsh found senior Dan Ratliff for a 6-yard score to make it 28-14.
Elyria’s defense finally stopped Mayfield and the offense took advantage of a short punt to start its next drive on the Mayfield 43. This time, junior Jumarr Lewis broke free for a 33-yard dash to pull the Pioneers within 28-21 with 5:15 to play in the quarter.
“You have to give our kids some credit,” Fell said. “We were down 28-0 and basically ran out of wind. You just can’t give up a kickoff return and screwed-up punt and expect to win.”
Mayfield finally put away the game with another long Canganelli run to set up a 24-yard field goal by junior Patrick Tighe with 8:32 to play.
Elyria wasn’t able to sustain anything on offense from that point. Parsh had 277 yards to finish the year with more than 2,000, but the Pioneers ran for just 99.
“I really believe our better days are ahead of us,” Fell said, already thinking of the offseason weight training. “We’ll get better and stronger before next year.”
FUMBLES ON THE PLAY: One of the strangest plays came as Mayfield was trying to seal the victory. It had the ball at Elyria’s 11-yard line with a 28-21 lead when Canganelli fumbled, but the ball bounced right back in his hands. He still managed to lose it when the Pioneers brought him down, and junior Tre’Von Cummings recovered for Elyria.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.