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Published: Sunday, 11/25/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Whitmer rips Mentor, rolls into state final

Quarterback Nick Holley rushes for 249 yards

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Whitmer's Me'Gail Frisch hugs head coach Jerry Bell after the Panthers defeated Mentor to advance to the state final. Whitmer's Me'Gail Frisch hugs head coach Jerry Bell after the Panthers defeated Mentor to advance to the state final.
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MANSFIELD — Freez­ing tem­per­a­tures and a de­ter­mined Men­tor de­fense could not con­tain un­de­feated Whit­mer on Satur­day night dur­ing a Divi­sion I state semi­fi­nal at Arlin Field.

Whit­mer played with ur­gency, and se­nior quar­ter­back Nick Hol­ley was the mas­ter­ful mae­stro in lead­ing the Pan­thers to a re­sound­ing 62-34 drub­bing of Men­tor to re­main un­de­feated en route to earn­ing a spot in the state cham­pi­on­ship game.

Whit­mer will face Cin­cin­nati Moeller in the D-I state cham­pi­on­ship con­test on Satur­day at Can­ton's Faw­cett Sta­dium.

PHOTO GALLERY: Whitmer vs. Mentor

First-year coach Jerry Bell has guided the Pan­thers to the state ti­tle game a year af­ter Whit­mer fell in the semi­fi­nals.

"It’s great that we have the mon­key off our back fi­nally," Bell said. "We'd got­ten here sev­eral times al­ready. Now it's time for us to fin­ish what we've started."

Hol­ley rushed for 249 yards on 27 car­ries, in­clud­ing touch­down runs of 20 and 48 yards. He also com­pleted 7 of 11 passes for 150 yards, in­clud­ing touch­down tosses of 20 and 10 yards to lead the No. 3 Pan­thers (14-0) past the Car­di­nals (12-2).

"We were de­ter­mined, and we came out de­ter­mined," Hol­ley said. "Honestly, we came out with some­thing to prove be­cause we came out as the un­der­dogs.

"We've got an­other one to go."

Whit­mer run­ning back Tre Reditt-Ster­ritt rushed for 83 yards on 14 car­ries, in­clud­ing touch­down runs of 10, 12, and one yards.

"This means a lot," Reditt-Ster­ritt said. "We came out and got it done this year. For this se­nior class, this is a dream come true."

Whitmer's Austin Bly, 25, and Marcus Elliott, 24, stop Mentor's Connor Krizancic on fourth down in the second quarter. The Panthers, for the most part, had an answer for the high-powered Cardinals. Whitmer's Austin Bly, 25, and Marcus Elliott, 24, stop Mentor's Connor Krizancic on fourth down in the second quarter. The Panthers, for the most part, had an answer for the high-powered Cardinals.
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The Pan­thers de­fense came away with three turn­overs, in­clud­ing an in­ter­cep­tion apiece by Ty­lor Sch­nei­der and Mar­cus El­li­ott. Ja­cob LaPoint also re­cov­ered a fum­ble.

Hol­ley di­rected the Pan­thers on an im­pres­sive nine-play, 79-yard scor­ing drive with the game's open­ing pos­ses­sion.

The Pan­thers se­nior sig­nal-caller han­dled the brunt of the drive by tuck­ing the foot­ball and show­ing plenty of run­ning skills. He car­ried six times for 60 yards on the drive, in­clud­ing a drive-com­plet­ing 20-yard touch­down scam­per around the right end with 7:45 to play in the first quar­ter. Mi­chael Bald­win's ex­tra-point try sailed wide right and the Pan­thers led 6-0.

But Men­tor quickly re­sponded with a scor­ing drive of its own to take a 7-6 lead af­ter Car­di­nals quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky con­nected with Con­nor Kri­zan­cic for a 30-yard TD com­ple­tion with 5:12 left in the first quar­ter.

Men­tor place­kicker Mike Mu­zic made good on his ex­tra-point try to give the Car­di­nals a 7-6 ad­van­tage.

How­ever, Men­tor didn't hold on to the lead for long be­fore Whit­mer put to­gether its sec­ond scor­ing drive in the open­ing quar­ter to re­gain the lead when Me'Gail Frisch scored on a 15-yard touch­down run com­ing off of an in­side hand­off from Hol­ley. After Bald­win made the ex­tra-point, the Pan­thers led 13-7 with 2:17 left in the first quar­ter.

It looked like Whit­mer was go­ing to take that lead into half­time af­ter both teams went most of the sec­ond quar­ter with drives com­ing to a halt and the de­fenses be­gin­ning to buckle down.

How­ever, Men­tor's of­fense be­gan to get back on track late in the sec­ond quar­ter and was in po­si­tion to at least tie the score af­ter Tru­bisky scram­bled 29 yards be­fore get­ting knocked out of bounds at the Whit­mer 3-yard line with two min­utes left in the half.

But the Car­di­nals' pos­ses­sion in­side the Pan­thers' 5-yard line went no fur­ther af­ter Pan­thers de­fen­sive line­man Ja­cob LaPoint came through mo­ments later with the most sig­nifi­cant de­fen­sive play of the game.

Tru­bisky had trou­ble han­dling the snap, and LaPoint rushed in to pull the loose ball out of the air be­fore rac­ing 94 yards for an ap­par­ent touch­down that brought the Whit­mer crowd to its feet in the freez­ing tem­per­a­tures. LaPoint's TD was over­turned af­ter a Pan­ther was called for a per­sonal foul dur­ing the re­turn.

The pen­alty only de­layed Whit­mer from go­ing up 20-7 af­ter Nick Hol­ley found Nathan Hol­ley for a 20-yard touch­down cm­ple­tion with 1:07 left in the first half.

Men­tor proved a minute was more than enough time re­main­ing to strike one fi­nal time be­fore the break as Tru­bisky drove the Car­di­nals down field in 54 sec­onds and made the half­time score 20-13. Tru­bisky teamed with Kri­zan­cic for a 20-yard TD pass with 13 sec­onds left in the first half.

Con­tact Don­ald Em­mons at: dem­mons@the­blade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twit­ter @Dem­monsBlade.

 



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