The Mechanicsburg High School football coaching staff had a simple message for head coach Kurt Forrest at halftime on Friday night: Get the ball to Joey Mascadri.
The senior running back carried the ball just twice in a scoreless first half against Ohio Heritage Conference crossover rival Greeneview at Don Nock Field on Friday night.
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When it came winning time, Forrest put the ball in the hands of his senior. Mascadri carried the load on a 74-yard third quarter scoring drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Logan Hurst, lifting the unbeaten Indians to a 7-0 victory.
Mascadri rushed 18 times for a game-high 93 yards.
“They were smart enough to tell me: ‘We might want to give him the ball more’,” Forrest said. “They made a genius adjustment and straightened me out. We decided to give the ball to Joey and good things happened.”
The game was played mostly between the 30-yard lines. Neither team was able to break a long run and they combined for 10 punts. It was the third straight shutout for Mechanicsburg, which hasn’t allowed a single point since Kenton Ridge scored 14 points in Week 1.
“Whenever Greeneview and Mechanicsburg get together, you know it’s going to be two seriously physical and two seriously fundamental football teams,” Forrest said. “We knew it was going to be a defensive slugfest. You just have to try to find an advantage any way you can. Our kids came out and fought like crazy. It was never easy. Our kids kept swinging. Finally, the rock broke and we were able to score seven and hang on defensively.”
The win snapped Greeneview’s 14-game regular season winning streak and handed second-year coach Ryan Haines his first career regular season loss. The Rams hadn’t lost a regular season game since Mechanicsburg beat them 40-7 on Oct. 21, 2016.
“We let a couple drives stall,” Haines said. “Obviously, we’re going to be kicking ourselves there for that. You can’t do that against good football teams.”
The Rams threatened in the first quarter, but a 41-yard field goal try by John Brakeall missed wide left.
Greeneview pinned Mechanicsburg deep in its own territory midway through the second quarter. The Rams forced a punt from the Indians end zone, but were unable to capitalize on the field position.
Greeneview got the ball to start the second half. The Rams drove to Mechanicsburg’s 26-yard line to start the second half, but Brakeall’s 43-yard FG attempt was short.
After the missed field goal, the Indians methodically drove the ball down the field on Mascadri’s back. The Indians finally hit pay dirt with less than a minute remaining, scoring on Hurst’s run.
On the ensuing possession, the Rams drove the ball to the Mechanicsburg 46-yard line, but a fake punt on 4th-and-7 failed.
Greeneview got the ball back with about seven minutes remaining on an interception by Taylor Stinson. Senior quarterback Nick Clevenger was stood up in the Rams backfield on third-and-2 at their own 33 with less than five minutes remaining. Haines opted to punt and use all three of his timeouts to get the ball back.
“Our punter had a good night, our defense was playing well and I had all three timeouts in my back pocket,” Haines said. “I had already dug for that spark (with the fake punt) and missed it, so at that point I thought let’s punt and play defense. We couldn’t quite get off the field.”
The Indians’ Mascadri converted a crucial third-and-1 with four minutes remaining to help Mechanicsburg run the clock out. He was able to stay inbounds multiple times to keep the seconds ticking away.
“All we were thinking was keep grinding,” Mascadri said after the win. “We knew we needed four yards at a time to keep getting the first downs. We knew we had to keep going and make sure we kept the clock running.”
Clevenger rushed for 90 yards and passed for 84 yards. The Rams (3-1) travel to Northeastern (1-3) next week.
The Indians host Madison Plains (0-4).