By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — One lightning quick touchdown to end the first half and another to open the second half keyed Medina to a wild 56-34 victory over arch rival Albion Friday night at Vets Park in the B East Division season finale.
Quarterback Jason Hellwig threw a school record tying six touchdown passes, including three to Lonnie Taylor and one each to Kyle Barna, Ben Austin and Danny Barnes to spearhead the Medina attack which also included a rushing touchdown by Barna and seven two-point conversions.
“It’s a great rivalry win and we got a lot of guys involved and had a lot of guys contribute which is great,” Medina head coach Eric Valley said.
Leading by a narrow 16-14 margin with just one second to go in what had been a sea-saw first half, Medina struck for a game breaking touchdown on a 30 yard pass from Hellwig to Taylor. Hellwig, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 402 yards on the night, tacked on the two-point conversion pass to Barna giving the Mustangs a 24-14 lead at the half.
On a night when defense took a back seat to offense, it was a pass interception by Jake Cotriss at the Medina 37 which gave the Mustangs the opportunity for that last minute scoring drive. Hellwig then had pass completions of nine yards to Barnes and 19 to Barna to quickly put the Mustangs in scoring position.
“That touchdown just before the half was huge,” Valley said. “The first half had been back and forth and that was a giant momentum swing.”
And the Mustangs kept that momentum at the outset of the second half as Taylor turned a short sideline pass from Hellwig into a 53 yard touchdown play just 13 seconds into the third quarter. Hellwig again added the two-point conversion on a pass to Austin quickly upping the Mustangs advantage to 32-14. Taylor had a total of eight catches for 194 yards.
“You give Jason the time he can throw the ball and we’ve got some guys who can catch the ball in space,” Valley said.
Albion did cut the deficit to 32-20 as Tyler Hughson returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown but the Purple Eagles could get no closer.
Medina answered right back as a 23 yard Hellwig to Taylor pass completion to the Albion 17 set up an 11 yard Hellwig to Barnes touchdown pass just three minutes later. Cotriss added the two-point conversion run boosting the Mustangs advantage to 20 at 40-20.
The sea-saw scoring battle continued as Albion scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jon Warne to Trey Hart only to have Medina answer back with a one-yard touchdown run by Barna and a two-point conversion pass from Hellwig to Austin keeping the Mustangs up by 20 at 48-28 at the three-quarter mark. Hellwig had pass completions of 23 yards to Taylor, 13 to Barna and 11 to Derek Fuller to highlight that drive.
The Medina advantage ballooned to 56-28 midway through the fourth quarter on a 23- yard Hellwig to Barna touchdown pass and a Hellwig to Austin two-point conversion. A big 28 yard gain on a Hellwig to Cotriss screen pass highlighted that drive.
Albion again answered right back on a nine yard Warne to Ed Wolfe touchdown pass with four minutes remaining to round out the high scoring evening at 56-34.
The first half followed a similar sea-saw scoring pattern as Medina had to come-from-behind twice.
Albion jumped out to an early 8-0 lead on a 64-yard touchdown run by Hughson who also added the two-point conversion.
Medina pulled even at 8-8 with 2:25 remaining in the quarter on a 32 yard Hellwig to Taylor touchdown pass and a two-point conversion run by Barnes. A big 25 yard Hellwig to Taylor pass completion keyed that drive.
The Purple Eagles regained a 14-8 lead four minutes into the second quarter on a one yard touchdown run by Hughson.
However, Medina again answered the challenge, this time on a 35-yard Hellwig to Austin touchdown pass with 2:28 remaining in the half and a two-point conversion carry by Danny Brown. A 25-yard Hellwig to Barna pass play highlighted the drive which vaulted the Mustangs back into the lead for good at 16-14.
The Mustangs then broke the contest open on the two decisive Hellwig to Taylor touchdown passes with a second to go in the first half and just 13 seconds into the second.
“Those two touchdowns just before and after the half broke it open,” Albion head coach Tony Osburn said. “That’s 16 points they got that we just couldn’t recover from. I’m proud of our kids though as they never quit.”
Hellwig’s six touchdown passes ties the record set by Brett Decker during an equally wild 55-30 victory over Trott in 1985. Decker was at the game keeping statistics ironically for Albion as his sister, Melissa, is married to Tony Osburn.
At the conclusion of the game the Mustangs were presented with the “Doc’s Trophy” which is given annually to the winning team in the memory of Larry Decker, Brett’s father, who coached and taught at both Medina and Albion.
The Mustangs finish the regular season at 3-2 in the division and 4-3 overall while Albion winds up at 1-4, 1-6.
The meeting was the 115th between the schools in a rivalry that dates back to 1898. Medina has now won two of the last three meetings but Albion leads the series 64-46-5.
Medina next will compete in the semifinal round of the Class B Chuck Funke Memorial Consolation Bowl, at home at 7 p.m. Friday against Dunkirk. A Lew-Port win (over Lackawanna) and an Olean loss (to Springville) over the weekend ended the Mustangs hopes for gaining a berth in the Section VI Class B playoffs. Maryvale will face East in the other B consolation bowl semifinal.
Albion will host Tonawanda at 7 p.m. Friday in a non league