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Three straight losses have Spartans spinning
October 2, 2019

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Boardman and Cardinal Mooney staged one of the most exciting high school football games so far this season last Friday night in Boardman.

Unfortunately for the host team, the thrilling outcome did not go its way. Mooney nipped Boardman 28-27 in overtime continuing a recent trend of the victor winning on the other team's home turf. One trend that may not be continuing for the Spartans is the one that has seen them reach back-to-back playoffs. Following last Friday's disappointing setback, the Spartans sit with a 1-4 record and are on life support as far as the post season is concerned.

At the start of the game, it seemed as if it was going to be the Cardinals who were going to be in need of resuscitation. Boardman's ultra-talented Terrance Thomas took the opening kickoff and electrified the home crowd with a 97-yard return for a touchdown. Mooney would make it 7-7 with a touchdown a few moments later. It would stay tied at halftime because Boardman's usually dependable kicker Tommy Fryda missed a 26-yard attempt just before the first half gun sounded. Fryda's missed kick was one reason why the Spartans couldn't hold a halftime lead. Another reason was their inability to generate any offense. Thomas' terrific kick return was about Boardman's only bolt over the first 24 minutes of game time. The Spartans failed to eclipse 80 yards of total first half offense.

The second half was much more high-scoring with each team trading two touchdowns. Then, with a few moments left in the fourth period, all heck broke loose. The score was knotted at 21 when Boardman quarterback Zach Ryan tossed a long pass to wideout Connor Miller. The super senior did his best Odell Beckham Jr. imitation and one-handed the 41-yard pass to set the Spartans up deep inside Mooney territory. Ryan ran up and spiked the ball in order to stop the clock and give Fryda a shot at winning the contest with a short field goal. One of Boardman's offensive linemen was called for being in the neutral zone, however, so the referee started the clock. Before Boardman could get that potential game-winning kick in the air regulation ended and overtime was needed. It was a strange finish to a fabulous four quarters. So strange that Boardman head coach Joe Ignazio really couldn't explain it.

"We clocked it then (the refs) called us for a penalty," said Ignazio. "I don't know what they were calling a penalty on."

Even with the phantom infraction, the coach admitted his team still could have avoided the confusing situation.

"If you don't put (the game) in the hands of the referees there is never an issue," Ignazio said.

The game, actually, was now in the hands of the visitors. Mooney had the ball first in OT and promptly scored to take a 28-21 lead. On Boardman's overtime possession, sophomore Sean O'Horo slithered into the end zone from 5-yards out to pull his team to within one point of a tie. After calling a timeout, Ignazio decided to forgo the easier extra point attempt and go for the gusto instead.

"The decision was to go for the win," he said.

That choice didn't work out too well for Ignazio and his group. Ryan handed the ball to O'Horo to start the two-point try. The running back then flipped it to the speedy Miller who was coming around end. Miller raced to the corner of the end zone but was pulled down by the Mooney defense a few feet short. The Cardinals then triumphantly took off from the field.

Ignazio's kids will now need to most likely roll off five straight wins if they want a chance at a Week 11 contest. They'll get a good head start on that streak this Friday night when they travel to Garfield Heights. The Bulldogs will enter the match with a 2-3 record after getting humiliated by Maple Heights 64-20 last weekend. Although they were mauled by Maple Heights, the Bulldogs have shown some bite this season. In their two wins they have scored a combined total of 103 points. Controlling the Garfield offense may be a high priority this week for the Spartans, but an even higher one may be to keep focused and to keep fighting for their playoff lives. Boardman's veteran coach believes his bunch will do just that.

"Our kids don't quit," Ignazio said. "They need to work hard, believe, be on a mission and sacrifice for the team. I don't expect anything different (this week)."

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