Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno knows a thing or two about winning playoff games.
The veteran coach readily admits riding his best players is the best way to advance.
That theory was executed to near perfection on Nov. 7 as All-Ohio candidates Jason Blizzard and Alex Mathews accounted for six total touchdowns in a 41-13 romp over visiting Canton Glen Oak in a Division I, Region 1 postseason opener at the JTO.
Mentor advances to the second round of the postseason to take on Region 1 top seed St. Edward at a site to be determined.
Mathews ran for 142 yards and touchdown runs of 14, 7 and 12 yards. Blizzard caught six passes for 116 yards and a pair of 19-yard TD receptions from sophomore quarterback Tadas Tatarunas. Blizzard also had an 8-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation.
Tatarunas completed 13 of 21 passes for 232 yards and two scores.
Mentor’s defense didn’t allow a point in the final 28 minutes of the game. Glen Oak’s last touchdown was on an interception return for a touchdown.
“We played well,” Trivisonno said. “That might have been the best we’ve played. We did a really good job. I’m proud of them.
“When those two guys (Blizzard and Mathews) play well we have a chance to be really good.”
Mentor (8-3) was really good all night against the Golden Eagles.
It was a 14-0 lead for the Cardinals before Glen Oak cut the deficit to eight points with a touchdown. But, late in the second quarter, Mentor took control for good. Mathews scored a touchdown with 47 seconds left in the first half. A Tatarunas-to-Blizzard hookup on the opening drive of the third quarter made it 27-6.
“It was a great way to prove we can finish a game and can beat a team by a good margin,” Blizzard said.
“That was really neat to see that defense step up and play like that.”
The win came a week after Mentor lost at Elyria, missing on a share of the Greater Cleveland Conference title.
“It definitely sparked a fire under us, the seniors especially,” Mathews said of last week’s loss to Elyria. “We don’t lose at home.”
Mentor built a 41-6 lead in the fourth quarter and the OHSAA running clock rule was enforced before Glen Oak (7-4) returned an interception for a touchdown to provide the final margin of victory.
DeAngelo Levert and Michael Ballentine were standouts on defense for the Cardinals.
Mathews now has 22 rushing touchdowns on the season.