Junior wide receiver Jordan Hargrove returned to action Friday in big fashion, catching touchdowns of 63 and 7 yards to lead the Irish to a 31-14 thumping of Mentor Lake Catholic.
BEDFORD, Ohio -- St. Vincent-St. Mary, the No. 6 seed, showed it still has a lot of fight left, beating No. 2 seed Mentor Lake Catholic 31-14 in the football Division III, Region 9 semifinal Friday at Bedford Bearcat Stadium.
St. V-M (10-2), unranked in the Associated Press poll, forced four turnovers by fifth-ranked Lake Catholic (10-2) and prevented the Cougars from ever gaining momentum.
Senior quarterback Kevin Besser hooked up with junior wide receiver Jordan Hargrove for a 63-yard touchdown pass during St. V-M’s second drive.
“I think that set the momentum for the game,” Irish coach Dan Boarman said. “At that point our kids knew they could play with them.”
Besser completed 15-of-23 passes for 280 yards and two TDs. Hargrove had five catches for 148 yards and two TDs.
"We had doubters, but we like being underdogs,” Besser said. “We knew coming into this game we didn't have pressure on us and we knew they were going to blitz, so we knew we could pass the ball.
"(The 63 yard TD) gave us a lot of confidence. Jordan is a talented kid, and he and Fresh are just phenomenal; you couldn't ask for any better receivers."
Junior receiver Franshon "Fresh" Bickley caught six passes for 96 yards.
"Our game plan was to throw the ball," Boarman said.
St. V-M’s attack was indeed heavily slanted toward the air, as the Irish gained only 77 yards on the ground.
Bickley also contributed on defense as he picked up a fumble by Lake Catholic senior receiver Richie Miller at the St.V-M 16, stopping a Cougar scoring drive that led to a 31-yard TD run by senior Matt Matuska.
The Irish defense forced three more turnovers in the fourth quarter leading to 10 points that essentially sealed the deal for St. V-M.
A fumble recovery by Matuska set up the Irish at the Lake Catholic 35-yard line. The opportunity was wasted when Besser was picked off by senior defensive back Aaron Phillips as he was trying to hit a streaking Hargrove in the end zone.
Three plays later, senior Tyler Bischof was able to pick off senior quarterback Mark Baniewicz pass at the St.V-M 49-yard line that led to a 25-yard field goal by senior kicker Antonio Manfut to make the score 24-7 with just 2:37 left in the game. Manfut successfully converted all four of his PAT attempts and was 1-for-2 on field goal attempts, missing a 32-yarder late in the second quarter.
Two plays later, Baniewicz was picked off again, this time by sophomore linebacker Dante Booker who took it 35 yards to the end zone to put the game out of the reach for Lake Catholic at 31 - 7.
Baniewicz was 11-for-28 for 168 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He led all rushers with 104 yards on 15 carries.
"Mentor Lake Catholic is an excellent football team and to beat them like this is a big step for our program," Boarman said.
The Irish will play Chagrin Falls in the Region 9 finals at a site to be determined. This win marked St. V-M's 24th postseason victory.