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STRONGSVILLE, OHIO– The Strongsville Mustangs overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat the Berea-Midpark Titans 49-35 to kickoff the 2018 season Friday night.
The Mustangs got the scoring started early with a five-minute drive from the Mustangs was capped off by an 8-yard touchdown run from Taylor Griffin. Griffin had six carries for 59 yards on the opening drive. The Titans came back and tied it up less than two minutes later after Bryce Agnew ran it in from 1 yard out. He was set up by a pass from Trevor Bycznski for 57 yards.
At the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs felt good about where they were. Strongsville led 14-7 and had Berea-Midpark ready to punt on 4th and 12. Instead of punting it, Bycznksi threw it and the gamble paid off as it was a gain of 48 yards. The Titans tied it up later that drive which propelled them to score 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.
It looked like the Mustangs were driving towards the end of the half with the ball on the Titans’ side of the 50 after a late hit penalty on Berea-Midpark. Jony Major threw his second interception of the game to end the drive and the Titans went into the locker room with a 28-14 lead at the half.
The first play of the second half was intercepted by Daoud Naser to give the Mustangs the ball at the Berea-Midpark 30-yard line. A minute and a half later, the Mustangs punched it in courtesy of a Joey Gillette touchdown run from 3 yards out.
The Mustangs then forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with a chance to tie the game in the middle of the third quarter. They capitalized on that opportunity and tied it up.
It looked like the Mustangs were ready to take the lead as they had the ball on the Titans’ 6-yard line but Major fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Berea-Midpark to keep the score tied at 28 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started similarly as the third. After a three-and-out from the Titans, the Mustangs took over on the Titans’ 46-yard line. Strongsville scored minutes later to take a 35-28 lead after a 5-yard touchdown pass from Major to Nick Adams.
It looked like Berea-Midpark was driving after a long pass and a personal foul penalty against the Mustangs but that drive ended quickly.
Bycznski underthrew a pass and it was picked off by Griffin, who took it back 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Mustangs a commanding 41-28 lead.
“Coach put me in the position to make a play,” Griffin said. “My teammates were on their game all I had to do was follow blocking and take it to the end zone.”
Strongsville finished with 393 yards on the night.
Just when it looked like it was over, Bycznski threw a screen pass that went 43 yards for a touchdown that cut the score to 41-35 with 5:36 left in the game. Strongsville came back and scored and that iced the game.
Bycznski finished the night throwing 19 for 31 for 300 yards and threw two touchdowns and two interceptions.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Taylor Griffin had 15 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown. Griffin also got a pick-six that essentially ended the game.
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