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Solon Tops Mentor In Shocking Ending 29-28

MENTOR, Ohio – The Solon Comets came to Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Friday night for a big Greater Cleveland Conference matchup against the Mentor Cardinals.

Solon rallied in overtime for a stunning 29-28 victory over the previously unbeaten Mentor Cardinals on a game-winning two point conversion fake.

“We have always kept that formation in the playbook and we run different plays in it from week-to-week,” said Solon head coach Jim McQuaide. “After the timeout, the guys said we want to win this game. Mentor is a phenomenal team and we had to go through a tough week of practice after last week’s game against Euclid. This is a step for us to push for the GCC title as we roll into the last two weeks.”

The Cardinals struck first on their opening drive as Luke Floriea capped a six play, 70-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run. Mentor grabbed a 7-0 lead with 9:52 left in the first quarter.

Five minutes later, Solon converted on their second drive of the evening. After Danny Morlani intercepted a pass from Floriea, Trevon Raphael scampered 53 yards to the house as the Comets tied the game at seven with 4:22 left.

Both teams were strong on defense as the game remained deadlocked until late in the third quarter.

After Solon forced a Mentor three and out, the Cardinals’ long snapper put the punt snap over Noah Garrett’s head as the Comets started their drive inside the red zone at the 12. On the first play, Khalil Eichelberger scored from 12 yards out as Solon took a 14-7 lead with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Mentor immediately responded with a scoring drive. Floriea opened the fourth quarter with a nine-yard touchdown run as the Cardinals tied the game once again at 14.

Solon went three and out and Mentor followed up with a fast, two play drive that resulted in their second lead of the night. Floriea began the drive with a 32 yard run and Brian Trobel followed with a 27 yard run to the house. The Cardinals’ offense pushed the advantage to 21-14 with 9:19 remaining in the contest.

As the game featured back and forth action all night, Solon continued the roller coaster with a quick scoring drive, tying the game at 21 with just over four minutes left. The Comets took advantage of a stalled Mentor drive with great field position. Solon quarterback Pat McQuaide hit Ethan Wong with a 40-yard pass while being hit. Wong caught the ball in the endzone for a touchdown.

Mentor had an opportunity to take the lead with less than a minute left but could not convert a crucial fourth-down conversion. The game went to overtime knotted at 21.

The Comets deferred to the second half of overtime, giving the Cardinals the ball first. Trobel capped a night with over 200 rushing yards as he found paydirt on the first play, a 20-yard score. Mentor attempted the extra point and made it, taking a 28-21 lead with Solon still to hold the ball.

Solon used three rushes from Jeff Barnett, before Mentor forced a do-or-die fourth down inside the 15-yard line. The Comets called Barnett’s number as he pushed forward for the necessary two yards. Two plays later, Barnett scored from six yards away.

P. McQuaide said practice takes the nerves away from the two-minute drill. “We practice that every week in practice so it’s a testament to our coaches to get us ready for moments like that.

After a discussion, Solon lined up in the kicking formation like they were going for the tie. They rolled a man in motion as McQuaide fired the game-winning two point try to a wide-open Nick Close. Solon won 29-28 in overtime.

P. McQuaide added, “We had to make a play to win the game and that’s exactly what we did tonight.”

The Comets were elated after the game, mobbing Close and McQuaide in the endzone as everyone else in the stadium was in shock at the ending on the field.

Mentor outgained Solon 343-213 in the game, with 277 rushing yards. Solon got 122 yards rushing and 91 passing.

Trobel led all players with 209 yards rushing on 35 carries with two touchdowns. Floriea went 10-for-21 passing for 66 yards with one interception in his first ever varsity start at quarterback. He also added 66 yards rushing on 11 carries and two touchdowns.

McQuaide threw for 91 yards on six completions, with one touchdown and one interception. Raphael was the leading rusher for Solon with 64 yards and one touchdown.

Tonight’s result shakes up the GCC conference race with two weeks to go. Solon improved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the GCC, as they will host Shaker Heights next week. Mentor fell to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, leading into a matchup at Euclid in week nine. There could be a four-way tie for the conference lead heading into next Friday.

Player of the Game: Brian Trobel, running back, Mentor.

35-209, 2 TD, 6.0 YPC

Story by Tyler Stotsky

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