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Mogadore captures thrilling playoff victory over Canton Central Catholic

Mogadore captures thrilling playoff victory over Canton Central Catholic


Mogadore quarterback Zeke Cameron receives a play from Wildcats head coach Matt Adorni.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


The Mogadore Wildcats’ defense found itself in a variety of precarious situations on Friday night.

Somehow, they delivered at all the right moments.

It was only fitting that they were on the field with six seconds remaining and the game on the line.

In a thrilling sequence, the Crusaders, trailing 19-14, had the ball at Mogadore’s 31 and enough time for one more play.

Quarterback Jack Talkington, who had used quick-hitting passes to move his team down the field and give them a chance at the end zone, took the final snap, dropped back and launched an arching pass that was not a Hail Mary.

Amazingly, the pass found a pocket void of Mogadore defensive backs and where a Crusaders receiver had found space along the very back edge of the end zone.

It first appeared to be the game-winning touchdown, but the receiver could not completely secure the ball and it fell out of bounds incomplete.

Survive and advance is the famous postseason motto and the Wildcats did both to earn the regional-quarterfinal victory over a talented CCC team.

“Wow, what a game. I am extremely proud of our kids for how they played tonight,” Mogadore head coach Matt Adorni said. “If someone would have told us in late July that we would be 11-0 and going to the regional semifinal, I don’t think many people would have believed that except the ones inside our locker room.”

That regional-final matchup will be against Cuyahoga Heights next Saturday at a neutral site that the OHSAA will announce on Sunday evening. The Red Wolves defeated Valley Christian 10-6 on Friday. The last time Mogadore, which is now 26-0 all-time in home playoff games, and Cuyahoga Heights met in the playoffs was in 2006, which the Wildcats won 30-27.

Friday’s postseason showdown will be remembered as a classic between two tough, disciplined and well-coached teams.

It will also be remembered for the display of power running by Mogadore senior Mason Williams.

The Ohio University commit was all but unstoppable. He ran through defenders. Pushed through them. Dragged them. Stiff-armed them. Cut around them. Even, at times, out-ran them. No matter the down and distance or everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the ball, Williams was constantly falling forward.

“Mason is more athletic than most people realize,” Adorni said. “And you have to give credit to the entire offensive line and all the blocking backs throughout the game like Chad Westfall, Collin Lehner, Adam Debenidictis and Austin Constantine. All of them were just banging away, hitting hard all game long.”

Williams (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) finished the game with 183 yards on 28 carries and the Cats needed every one of them, including what became the game-winning touchdown when he plunged across the goal line from 2 yards out with 9:13 to play.


Mogadore senior running back Mason Williams (unseen) is tackled by a collection of Canton Central Catholic defenders on Friday.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports


The touchdown game Mogadore (11-0) a 19-7 lead and was a strong answer to a touchdown the Crusaders had scored late in the third quarter that had cut their deficit to just 12-7.

The score was set up by a halfback pass by Williams, on first-and-20 from the CCC 32 following a holding penalty, to Nick Coffman for 30 yards.

It took CCC (7-5), though, less than three minutes to answer back, though, with a 5-yard run by Daniel Boron cutting the lead back to 19-14.

Mogadore had a chance to put the game away with less than 2 minutes on the clock and the ball at CCC’s 12-yard line. However, a third-and-10 run was stuffed and the Wildcats’ first fourth-down attempt resulted in a pass-interference call in the end zone. The penalty was enforced half the distance to the goal line and turned a fourth-and-10 from the 11 to a fourth-and-3 from the 6. Mogadore’s pass attempt into the end zone was incomplete and the Cats turned the ball over on downs, with 1:38 to play, to jumpstart the Crusaders’ final drive of the game.

“We wanted to punch that one in there, but we fell short,” Adorni said.

Mogadore grabbed a 6-0 lead after the first quarter on a 3-yard run by Constantine. The extra point was missed and the score was set up by an interception by Coffman.

The Cats pushed the lead to 12-0 in the second quarter — and into halftime — on a 2-yard run by Williams, but the conversion run was stopped.

The Wildcats, who had only three turnovers through their first 10 games this season had three in Friday’s game: Two interceptions and a lost fumble.

Collin Lehner was another dependable runner for the Wildcats on Friday, finishing with 65 yards on 16 carries. In the game, Mogadore ran it 51 times for 275 times and threw it only six times.

The Crusaders’ offensive leader was quarterback Jack Talkington, who rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown and also completed 11-of-24 passes for 128 yards.


Canton Central Catholic quarterback Jack Talkington prepares for a shotgun snap during the Crusaders’ first possession of the game on Friday.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

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