PARMA, Ohio – Mentor fans are already calling Mitch Trubisky the ‘giant killer’, and in a few weeks they could have two more nicknames for their record-breaking quarterback: Mr. Football, and State Champion.
For the second week in a row, the North Carolina recruit led an improbable comeback, this time rallying his Cardinals from a 28-20 deficit in the final six minutes of the Region 1 Final, to defeat 11-time Division 1 State Champion, St. Ignatius, 57-56 in a triple-overtime thriller.
With Mentor (12-1) trailing by eight, Trubisky eluded the Wildcats’ pass rush and found the end zone to cut the Ignatius lead to two. Then the All-Ohio signal caller hit his favorite target, junior Brandon Fritts for a two-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28.
The Mentor defense then forced St. Ignatius to punt, and the Cardinals got the ball back with just over three minutes to play. That’s when Trubisky went back to work. First he hit a wide open Nick Delisa for a huge gain inside the Wildcats’ five yard line, then he called his own number again, running in from one yard out to give Mentor a 35-28 lead, with just 48 seconds remaining.
But Coach Chuck Kyle’s Wildcats were not about to go down without a fight, and senior quarterback Michael LaManna led a magical drive of his own, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Siragusa with just 0:05 remaining, and Matt Colella’s extra point tied the game at 35-35 to force overtime.
That’s when the real fun started. Ignatius scored first, on a 19-yard touchdown pass from LaManna to Siragusa. Then Mentor answered when Trubisky connected with Fritts on fourth down to extend the game.
In the second overtime, Mentor scored first, with Trubisky running for his third touchdown in four possessions. But LaManna and The Wildcats needed just one play to answer, with Siragusa catching his third touchdown pass in as many possessions, to force the decisive third overtime.
Once again, St. Ignatius scored first, with senior tailback Tim McVey catching a swing pass out of the backfield, and powering his way into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the night.
McVey, who is committed to play for the University of Buffalo would have been the best player on the field, if it weren’t for Trubisky. He ran for more than 240-yards on 40 carries.
But like last week’s win over top-ranked St. Edward, Mentor had the ball last, and that’s what mattered. After a pair of incompletions, Trubisky hit Fritts for a big first down inside the Wildcats’ five, and a play later, he powered into the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game.
That’s when Mentor Coach Steve Trivisonno elected to go for a two-point conversion to win the game, rather than playing for a fourth overtime.
Trubisky rolled left and fired a strike to Fritts, who used his six inch height advantage to shield his defender from the ball and haul it in for the 57-56 win.
Trubisky completed 25 of 40 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns, both to Fritts, who totaled 102 yards on eight catches. Trubisky also ran for 138 yards and four scores, including the game winner.
Despite a slow start, LaManna found his rhythm in the second quarter, helping the Wildcats cut an early 13-0 deficit to 20-14 at halftime. The senior threw for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns, without an interception.
Siragusa caught three touchdown passes, all in the final five seconds, or in the three overtime periods.
However, St. Ignatius fans will long lament three botched field goal attempts by Colella that could have won the game for the Wildcats in overtime. Mentor blocked two of the kicks, including one in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Mentor improves to 12-1 and extends its winning streak to 10-games, dating back to a 48-21 loss to St. Ignatius in week three. The Cardinals advance to next Saturday’s Division I State Semifinal against Toledo Whitmer (13-0), which humbled Massillon Washington (11-2), 49-16 in the Region 2 Final.
St. Ignatius, which won its first nine games of the season by an average of nearly 33 points per game, dropped two of its final four games to finish 11-2.
For all the final scores, plus video highlights and photo galleries from Friday’s games, head over to the FOX-8 High School Football page.