Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno just wanted to see his team have fun playing football again.
After a lopsided loss at Cincinnati St. Xavier in Week 3, and a 19-point first-quarter deficit against Euclid in the GCC opener on Sept. 18, Trivisonno was looking forward to seeing the Cardinals enjoy the game and play the way they are capable of playing.
Fun is exactly what Mentor had for the final three quarters as the Cardinals rallied for a 37-27 win over the visiting Panthers at the JTO in Week 4.
Led by senior captains Alex Mathews and Jason Blizzard, Mentor stormed back from a 19-0 hole to score 37 unanswered points, defeat a talented Euclid team and improve to 3-1 on the season.
Mathews had 228 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and Blizzard grabbed 11 passes for 162 yards and two scores as the Cardinals rolled past the Panthers after a difficult opening.
“It took us a while to get going, and I don’t know if it was because of last week against St. X, but once we settled down I thought we did a lot of good things,” Trivisonno said.
“Alex was Alex and (QB) Tadas (Tatarunas) keeps getting better every week. And the defense started running hard and fast and getting after it better. Euclid is a very talented team and they have some guys over there. I was happy with the way we responded. These are life lessons as much as football. You have to learn to battle back when things don’t go your way all the time.”
Euclid QB Noah Mitchell threw three touchdowns in the first quarter – two to Chris Boone and one to Craig Robinson to give the Panthers a 19-0 lead. Mathews scored on a 30-yard jaunt in the first quarter to cut the lead and scored again in the second quarter, followed by a Cal Tommasone field goal to slice the deficit to 19-17 at halftime.
Mathews scored for a third time in the third quarter, and Tatarunas found Blizzard twice for touchdowns in the second half to help the Cardinals pull away for the win.
“We started off slow again, and I don’t know if we took Euclid lightly but they were jacked up and came to play and they are a very talented team,” Mathews said. “Once we got going, we played Mentor offense and Mentor defense and did what we are supposed to do.”
Mentor (3-1, 1-0 GCC) stepped up defensively to hold Euclid off the board after the initial offensive onslaught by the Panthers. Kenny Cook had two sacks and played a big game on defense for the Cardinals.
“We just had to play through it,” Cook said. “If you get beat deep, you get beat deep. You just have to keep playing. We adjusted as the game played and played better as the game went on. It was a great experience, and we just have to keep getting better every week. Euclid is a good team. I would not be surprised to see them again in the playoffs.”
Mentor took a 37-19 lead in the fourth quarter on a Tatarunas to Blizzard TD pass. Euclid closed the gap midway through the final quarter with a touchdown pass from Sidney Shephard to David Wright for the last score of the game.
The Cardinals, who racked up 539 yards of total offense, will face Shaker Heights on the road on Sept. 26.
Euclid fell to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the GCC.