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Mooney uses familiar formula in win

Staff photo / John Vargo Cardinal Mooney’s Pat Guerrieri gets the ball into the end zone Friday night against East at Stambaugh Stadium.

YOUNGSTOWN — Teams that play Cardinal Mooney High School in football generally know what’s coming from the Cardinals.

Mooney’s game plan is to run the football, and then run the football some more. That’s the way it has been for decades, and teams all across Ohio know it.

That doesn’t make it any easier to stop.

The Cardinals ran for 321 yards on 49 carries and picked up a much-needed win against East, 38-13, to improve to 4-2 and remain in the playoff hunt in Division IV.

“Mooney’s a tough team,” Golden Bears coach Brian Marrow said. “They’re going to run the ball. That’s their history. That’s their M.O. They just wore us down. Right from the opening drive, they go 91 yards just running the ball down our throats.”

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Cardinal Mooney’s Jeremy Thornton, center, runs away from East’s Tramonte Gervins Friday in Youngstown.

The initial drive set the tone.

Mooney started the scoring with a textbook 11-play, 5-minute, 33-second drive, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Pat Guerrieri. Guerrieri was a part of three scores, running for two and throwing another.

Leading the run game was Zyere Rodgers, who rushed for 119 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries. His 13-yard score was the backbreaker for East (3-3).

The Golden Bears had just scored late in the third quarter, making the score 21-13, but Mooney — as it did all night — answered. The Cardinals put together a nine-play drive that took 3:31 off the clock, and the score seemed to deflate any momentum East had.

“Our answers early on were important,” Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said. “Our offensive line did a really good job of establishing the line of scrimmage. Our skill guys and quarterback really made some good decisions to put us in some positive situations.”

Staff photo / John Vargo East's Maleek McIntosh rushes for yardage.

Guerrieri was a big part of the offensive success.

While the running game was solid from start to finish, Guerrieri was efficient as a passer. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 71 yards on 12 carries. His second TD run of 2 yards was the answer to East’s first TD.

The Golden Bears’ Maleek McIntosh broke free for a 36-yard TD run on the ensuing drive. East missed the extra point, so Mooney held a 7-6 lead. East forced a fumble by Guerrieri on Mooney’s next drive, but it couldn’t capitalize. A three-and-out forced a punt, and the Cardinals put together an eight-play drive, with Guerrieri again punching it for a 14-6 lead.

“He did a good job of kind of replacing the blitzers (with passes to the area they were blitzing),” Fecko said. “He’s made great decisions for us all year long, and it continued tonight.”

East’s offense had its problems finding a rhythm.

The Golden Bears finished with just 175 total yards, and they were unable to create many big plays. Their second score, which made it 21-13, came on a 10-play drive in the third quarter. Quarterback Isiah McBride tossed a 10-yard TD to Isaiah Hackett, but McBride struggled to find open receivers throughout the game.

He finished 11-of-23 for 74 yards, one TD and two interceptions. His longest completion was for 17 yards as Mooney kept an athletic yet undermanned East team under wraps.

“Losing Robbie (Sullivan), our heart and soul, he dislocated his elbow,” said Marrow of a third-quarter injury to Sullivan, a do-it-all receiver, running back and quarterback who had just gained 11 yards when he was injured in the third quarter. “He’s our leader, our captain. He’s a player, and when it rains it pours. Losing a guy like that when we already have guys missing, it hurt. We still played undisciplined, with penalties and some unforced errors. We shot ourselves in the foot again. In the end, Mooney was just better tonight.”

The Cardinals move on to play host to Louisville next week, while East travels to Howland.