Mayfield's running game bulldozes Nordonia football out of playoffs

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia quarterback Billy Levak runs for a touchdown during a game earlier this season. Levak threw for two touchdowns in the Knights' 55-31 playoff loss at Mayfield Oct. 16.

The history of football between Nordonia and Mayfield is long and contentious.

There were myriad battles when the Knights and Wildcats were conference rivals, plus a series of season-opening classics earlier this past decade.

Of course, the last time Nordonia played Mayfield in the playoffs, it was a huge game. The Knights scored a 52-14 win over the Wildcats in a Division II state semifinal game in 2014.

Six year later, the two rivals met again Oct. 16 at Mayfield in a Division II, Region 5 second round game at Mayfield.

This time, it was the Wildcats that had too much firepower..

Mayfield outscored Nordonia 34-14 after the half to run away with a 55-31 win. With the win, Mayfield improved to 5-1 on the season and earned the right to top-seeded Archbishop Hoban in a regional quarterfinal next Friday.

Nordonia dropped to 4-4 on the season.

Knights coach Jeff Fox noted the Wildcats were sharp while his team was not.

"Unfortunately for us, they were up for it," Fox said. "They've got a great pair in the backfield. They did a great job of attacking us and making plays. They outplayed us."

The game was an offensive shootout, as Mayfield edged the Knight 428-375 in total yards.

The difference in the game was the Mayfield's running attack. The Wildcats racked up 299 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, which allowed the Wildcats to grind the clock in the second half.

"Our run defense definitely still has a need for improvement," Fox said. "They have a really good scheme. They have a ton of quarterback runs."

Nordonia's defense had no answer for the Wildcats' backfield duo of quarterback Michael Huss and running back Joey Dostal.

Dostal ground out 185 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries, while Huss from for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Huss also was efficient in the passing game, going 9-of-11 for 121 yards and a touchdown.

Nordonia's ground game was limited to only 77 total yards, but the Knights aerial atack kept them in the game early.

Quarterback Billy Levak went 16-of-32 for 293 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

For two-and-a-half quarters, the game felt like a heavyweight championship fight with both side throwing haymakers at each other.

Huss opened the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run, but Nordonia answered with a 2-yard touchdown runs from Sal Perrine.

Perrine finished with 23 carreies for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

Mayfield would lead 14-7, thanks a 13-yard touchdown run from Dostal.

However, Nordonia answered with 10 straight points. First, kicker Andrew Lastovka nailed a 24-yard field goal to make it 14-10 after one quarter.

After Nordonia forced a punt, Perrine ran in his second touchdown of the game from  three yard out, giving the Knights their lone lead og the game at 17-14 with 8:11 left in the first half.

Mayfield would answer again, however, as a seven-yard touchdown run from Dostal gave the Wildcats at 21-17 lead at halftime.

The pattern continued early in the third quarter. After Dostal plunged into the end zone from a yard out, Nordonia hit its biggest play of the night.

Levak hit Cooper Rusk with a 75-yard bomb for a touchdown, and Lastovka's extra point cut the lead to 29-23.

Mayfield stretched the lead to 34-23 when Huss ran in a six-yard touchdown and the extra point failed.

At this point, however, two errors from the Knights allowed Mayfield to blow the game open. The Wildcats scored touchdowns on all five of their second half drives.

First, Tim Steffens intercepted Levak with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. That led to a touchdown drive with Dostal plunging in for 3 yards out.

Nordonia was called a personal foul penalty, which was assessed on the kickoff. The Wildcats squib kick was recoverd by Mayfield recovered and drove down for an 8-yard touchdown pass from Huss to Billy Guzzo, giving Mayfield a 48-23 advantage with 6:09 left in the game.

"There was a confusing personal foul penalty that I still don't agree with," Fox said. "There was a squib situation. I don't think it was a true onside kick. That sequence was definitely what put us away."

The Knights didn't give up, as Levak led Nordonia to another touchdown drive. He hit Rusk with a 16-yard touchdown pass and then hit Perrine with a two-point conversion pass.

Rusk had a huge night with eight catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

However, Mayfield erased all doubt, as its final drive culminated with Huss running in a 24-yard touchdown with 1:09 to go.

Nordonia will continue to play after the playoffs. The Knights will host Cleveland Heights Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.