Mooney scores 10 touchdowns to win regional title in Div. III
By Tom Williams
After watching Dover High quarterback Derik Swinderman pass for 290 yards in the first half, the pressure was on Mooney’s defense.
Answering the call was linebacker Anthony Dermotta whose third-quarter interception return of 41 yards for a touchdown gave the Cardinals control in Friday’s 70-44 victory in the Division III, Region 11 championship game.
Swinderman, who passed for 481 yards but was picked off three times, was trying to hit wide receiver Mason Mamarella over the middle and didn’t see Dermotta jump the route.
“I saw the inside receiver running a dig and I just read it,” said the Cardinals’ sophomore linebacker of his first pick six. “I can’t describe the feeling.”
The Cardinals (9-3) captured their 17th regional championship and will play for a state berth next Friday against Chagrin Falls.
“It’s the best feeling,” Dermotta said after the blowout. “It felt great to just get it over and get the win.”
At halftime, a Mooney victory was anything but certain. The Cardinals trailed 31-28 after watching the Tornadoes (11-2) overcome a 14-0 deficit. Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said two fumbles and failure to recover two Dover onside kicks were the culprits.
“Our biggest issue in the first half was the turnovers,” Fecko said. “Even with those, we put 28 points on the board.”
The Cardinals’ rushing attack punched the Tornadoes for 238 yards in the first two quarters, with tailback Roosevelt Griffin getting 149 of them on 14 carries.
Fecko said the mood in the locker room was not one of panic.
“We knew it was a matter of us taking care of the football and controlling the game,” Fecko said. “Our defense came up with some early stops in the second half ... and then we had our own [successful] onside kick.”
The Cardinals went ahead 35-31 when Justus Ellis-Moore capped a 10-play, 68 yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Three plays later, Dermotta’s touchdown increased the lead to 11. The Cardinals added four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
One was set up by defensive back Marcus McWilson who stripped the ball from Dover wide receiver Josh Bennett after a 32-yard gain to the Mooney 6. McWilson picked up the ball and returned it 37 yards.
“I don’t know how you turn it over four times and succeed against anybody decent, let alone a great football team like [Mooney],” Dover coach Dan Ifft said. “That was a little disheartening — we wanted to play a little better and cleaner in the second half and take it deep into the fourth quarter.”
Ellis-Moore scored four touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards. Griffin led the Mooney offense with 233 yards on 28 carries and three scores.
“All the credit goes to the [offensive] line,” Griffin said. “Everything I do is to my O-line.”
Ellis-Moore scored on a 10-yard run a little more than two minutes after the game began. In the next three minutes, the Cardinals forced another punt and Griffin scored on a 3-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
The Tornadoes roared to life with four TDs and a field goal, helped by recovering two onside kicks and the Mooney turnovers.