Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Mentor comes out on top of St. Ignatius


You expected a low-scoring, boring, average game at the JTO on Sept. 4?

If you did, then you don’t know the Mentor-St. Ignatius rivalry.

And after racking up 823 yards of offense and scoring nine touchdowns against the perennial power Wildcats, Cardinals coach Steve Trivisonno now knows he has a pretty special team on his hands.

Malik Porter caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds to play in regulation as the Mentor defeated St. Ignatius, 63-56, on Sept. 4 in the latest edition of what has become a classic series.

Trivisonno now has a winning record against the Wildcats (8-7) which is something not many – if any – coaches in Ohio can say over the last 19 seasons.

“Typical Mentor-St. Ignatius game,” Trivisonno said. “This is a huge win and takes a lot of pressure off of us going into next week (at Cincinnati St. Xavier). We will see where we are at. Biggest game in the state next week.”

The Mentor win over St. Ignatius was easily the best game in the state in Week with 1,443 yards of total offense on 150 plays from scrimmage and 57 first downs.

Porter’s game-winning catch came after sophomore quarterback Tadas Tatarunas – who threw for 523 yards and four touchdowns – was forced to scramble. Porter improvised in the end zone to get open.

“At first I was supposed to do a fade to the back of the end zone, but the linebacker blitzed and Tadas was in trouble,” Porter said. “Then it’s the scramble drill. It’s something we practice all week.”

The Cardinals (2-0) led 35-13 midway through the second quarter, but the Wildcats (1-1) pulled within 35-33 early in the third.

The teams were tied at 49 and 56 in the second half.

“Two great teams so of course you’re expecting a lot of scoring. Definitely a close game no matter what,” said Cardinals wide receiver Jason Blizzard, who had 14 catches for 342 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another. “We figured it was going to come down to the last series, whoever had the ball last in the last seconds of the game.”

Each team punted just three times, and had a turnover. Michael Ballentine’s interception with 1:08 to play gave the Cardinals the ball at their own 37, leading to the winning score.

Mentor running back Alex Mathews gained 235 yards on 31 carries against the Wildcats. Frank Toth scored the first TD of the game on a 52-yard burst up the middle on the opening possession for the Cardinals, who had five straight scoring possessions of 80 yards or more.

Wildcats quarterback Dennis Grosel was 19 of 35 passing for 415 yards and six touchdowns. Cal Grbac had five catches for 190 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown.

Tatarunas stole the show in his second varsity start, but was quick to acknowledge the skill players and the offensive line around him.

“Those guys believe in me, and I believe in them,” Tadarunas said. “I’m speechless now. I have more confidence now, we just have to keep rolling.” 

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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