A tough Trojans team from McDowell High School in Erie, PA, led the Mentor Cardinals for much of the second half of their football game Friday.
In fact, the Cardinals only held the lead for 30 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Fortunately, those were the final 30 seconds of the game.
A strong late showing from Mentor's young defense allowed them to end a seesaw game on top.
The Trojans' running backs often had their way with the Cardinals defense but Mentor stepped up in the closing minutes.
First, Keith McCormick snagged a fumble after a teammate knocked the ball loose with 1:30 left in the game and the score tied at 27. This led to a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
McDowell then had the ball back with 27 seconds left. But the defense ended the game once and for all when McCormick grabbed an interception.
"(The defense) had several big plays at the end," Mentor Head Coach Steve Trivisonno said. "For as bad a third quarter as we had, we had that good of a fourth."
Before the game's exciting finish, the teams swapped leads several times.
Mentor struck first with a 33-yard pass from Trubisky to wide receiver Conner Krizancic half way though the first quarter. The extra point was blocked.
McDowell's running back Khyre Drayer responded with a 3-yard touchdown run. In general, the Trojans had a fantastic day on the ground, accumulating more than 400 yards running.
Mentor reclaimed the lead in the second half with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Brandon Fritts. A 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, making the score 12-7 going into half time.
McDowell then struck with a pair of running touchdowns in the third quarter: Drayer from the 5 and, then, James Conner dashed 69 yards to the end zone.
Trubisky closed the gap with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Fritts, making it 21-19; but Drayer ended the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Going into the final quarter, McDowell led 27-19. But a 6-yard touchdown run from Trubisky and a 2-point conversion toss from Trubisky to Fritts tied the score at 27.
The Cardinals seemed poised to put the game away when Trubisky threw an interception at the goal line and the Trojans had the ball at Mentor's 20 with 5:25 left in the game.
But, before the Trojans could take advantage of the turnover, Cardinals responded by recovering a fumble that led to the game's final score.
The Cardinals suffered from a few questionable calls from the referees during the game. On one particular play, a Trojan defender dragged an open Fritts to the ground in the end zone but no flag was thrown.
Trivisonno said he was glad his players didn't let the referees' calls rattle them.
"I was pleased with the way we handled it," he said.
Mentor also . When asked if Cardinals fans should be ready for a season of last-minute victories, Trivisonno replied, "I hope not. I don't want to have to watch that every weekend.
"But it was a great game. I'll tell you, anybody who came to the game got there money's worth."