They were on the ropes, then fighting just to force overtime. When Mentor finally got there, the Cardinals made the most of it.
USA TODAY Super 25 No. 14 Mentor capitalized on its final chance, scoring a game-tying touchdown in the final two minutes, then scored a touchdown on fourth-and-goal in overtime and successfully converted a two-point conversion to top St. Edward, 36-35, in the Ohio state playoffs Friday night.
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Here’s everything we learned from Mentor’s historic escape:
1) Mentor’s coaching staff and players have some stones
Facing one of the toughest foes in the Cleveland area, a program that has finished as highly ranked as No. 3 in the Super 25 in the past decade, Mentor found itself down by two touchdowns with just four minutes left in the third quarter. No matter. The Cardinals clawed one touchdown back on a trick play, then held off every Eagles advance to set the stage for a last minute, game-tying touchdown.
That, of course, set the stage for the ultimate gutsy call: Following a touchdown, Mentor went for the win instead of the tie. Fortune is said to favor the bold, and it smiled on the Cardinals with quarterback Ian Kipp completing a game-winning two-point pass to senior wide receiver and Kent State commit Luke Floriea.
Game, set, match Mentor, and season for St. Ed’s in perhaps the most fitting ending possible for an epic clash between two of Northeast Ohio’s most storied programs.
2) Did Mentor really score its OT touchdown?
There’s no question that Floriea made the game-winning catch on the two-point conversion, but did the touchdown that led to it really count? There’s at least some suggestion on social media that Ian Kipp’s touchdown — which came on a 4th and goal — was actually stopped just short of the goal line. Truth or fiction? Judge for yourself below. The critics may have a point:
3) The true MVPs: Both defenses
For all the drama, all the fireworks, the game could have been wrapped up in more traditional ways if either team’s offense had effectively executed. Instead, the defenses held strong again and again. St. Ed’s turns it over on an interception inside their own 30? No worries, the defense will dig its way out. St. Ed’s driving to win? Just an set up for Mentor to make a big play. Yes, both offenses clicked back in during the final minutes of regulation and in overtime, but the fierce defenses of both sides kept them off solid footing before then and set up one of the more remarkable finishes of the season, nationwide.