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Controversy costs Mooney in title game

Clinton-Massie scores in final minutes to top Cardinals, 27-21

December 7, 2013
By JOHN VARGO - Tribune Chronicle (jvargo@tribtoday.com) , Underthelights

MASSILLON - The snow kept flying around Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday afternoon, so much that a couple of vehicles had to remove the layer of the white covering on the once green field turf - extending halftime by at least 20 minutes.

To Cardinal Mooney, the only thing that mattered was the small yellow flag stuck in the end zone during the final minutes of the Division IV state final against defending champion Clarksville Clinton-Massie - a championship it defended Friday, 27-21.

The Falcons, who gave the Cardinals a strong dose of brothers Chayse and Bayle Wolf out of their wishbone set offense, drove to the Mooney 20, where Clinton-Massie faced a fourth-and-5 with about 2 minutes remaining. There, Falcons quarterback Hunter Fentress threw a pass intended for Dylan Rose in the end zone. The ball was tipped in the air by Rose. Mooney's Mark Handel, who was defending on the play, then brought Rose to the ground. Seconds later, pass interference was called.

Article Photos

For the Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Cardinal Mooney’s C.J. Amill (22) bursts through for a 25-yard touchdown during Friday’s Division IV state final game against Clinton-Massie.

"I thought I tipped it then dragged him down, what I was taught to do," Handel said.

Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said he was given an explanation by the officials.

"The explanation was he was playing defense from behind," said Fecko, whose team finished at 10-5.

The pass interference put the ball at the Mooney 10. From there, it took Bayle Wolf, who had 26 carries for 148 yards and two scores, rushes of 8 and 2 - to punch it into the end zone with 1:10 remaining. The extra point was no good.

Mooney had its opportunity to make a miraculous rally. Starting at its own 21 with less than a minute remaining, Cardinal quarterback Jon Saadey rushed 22 yards and threw a completion to Handel for 6 more - setting the ball at the Cardinals 49.

On third-and-4, Saadey threw a pick to Clinton-Massie's Kelson Gauden, which ended the game.

Gauden said the Falcons shut down Mooney's running game in the second half, limiting it to 56 yards.

"In the second half, we stuffed their stretch play and drove them into the ground," Gauden said.

Clinton-Massie's offensive line was the one who controlled the line of scrimmage. Chayse Wolf added 16 carries for 87 yards and a TD. The Falcons (14-1) had 267 rushing yards to Cardinal Mooney's 238.

"I think where the game was won was up front," Clinton-Massie coach Dan McSurley said. "The offensive line stepped up each week progressively. Those guys were the heart and soul of our football team."

That running attack controlled the clock as well. Clinton-Massie held onto the ball for 22:14 to Mooney's 13:46.

"It was difficult to get enough touches on the ball," Fecko said. "When you play a good running team like that, that sure as heck is going to happen."

What happened Friday was closing on blizzard-like conditions, which Mooney seemed to take advantage of in the first half when it rushed 20 times for 182 yards.

Mooney didn't waste any time as it shoved the 1-2 punch of C.J. Amill and Handel down the Falcons' throat. Amill took a handoff on third-and-4 from the Clinton-Massie 25, slipping past a couple of would-be tacklers for the game's first score with 9:32 left in the first quarter. The touchdown capped off a six play, 60-yard drive.

Amill finished with 12 carries for 71 yards and that score.

"If you leave your feet in the snow, you're going to slip off of good running backs and they were good running backs," Gauden said.

Mooney's defense seemed to be in control, holding the 1,800-yard rusher Bayle Wolf and his brother Chayse, who went for more than 1,300 this year, in check. The Cardinals held the Falcons to 6 yards on the team's first drive.

The two brothers proved their offensive prowess in the next series with a couple of pass and running plays - capped by Bayle Wolf''s 8-yard run to tie the game at 7 with 3:13 left in the first.

Then, Handel swept right on first down of the Cardinals' next drive and scooted past the Clinton-Massie defenders 68 yards to take a 14-7 lead with 1:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Handel led Mooney with 16 carries for 149 yards and two scores.

The Falcons countered with an 11-play, 60-yard drive to start the second quarter.

Clinton-Massie faced a crucial third-and-9 at the Mooney 20, and Chayse Wolf scored on a 20-yard TD run to tie the game at 14 with 9:14 before intermission.

Both teams seemed content to go in tied at half, but the Mooney defense had other plans.

Gauden was stood up at the line of scrimmage by a stout Cardinals line with around 3:20 before halftime. Mooney's Nick Hubert ripped the ball away from Gauden and Roosevelt recovered the fumble.

The fumble and the interception to end the game were game's only turnovers.

Handel made the Falcons pay six plays and 31 yards later with a 13-yard option pitch. He went into the end zone untouched with 58 seconds remaining before the break as the Cardinals went into halftime up 21-14.

The second half, and the pass interference call ultimately decided the game.

"It'll be interesting to look at it on tape," Fecko said. "I think there was some conference there between the officials. Obviously, they stuck with the call."