Medina's Luke Hensley catches a touchdown pass against Highland during the second quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
MEDINA — End Noah Nunn was a pass-rushing monster and Jacob Tomasch wasn’t too shabby, either, on the other side. Linebackers Ethan Silvis, Nathan Spatny and Seth Dicola blitzed liked animals, and safety Nick Chester changed the complexion of the game with a scoop-and-score.
The Medina football team’s defense is itching to be seen in 2018.
Mastering the art of bend but don’t break despite another mesmerizing performance from All-Ohio running back Jake Rogers, the Bees made all the big plays needed to defeat neighboring Highland 24-7 Friday in the second meeting between the schools.
Don’t look now, but Medina is 2-0 for only the third time since 2004. The other two teams (2010, ’16) made the Division I playoffs, in case anyone was wondering.
“I feel great,” Nunn said. “Nobody trusted us to come out like this, but we all came together as a group. We’ve had that fire since December when we came into the weight room. We knew we were going to be more than everyone thought. We’re just proving that.
“We don’t care what anybody thinks. We’ll just keep proving ourselves each week.”
Rogers juked defenders out of their shoes and handed out nasty stiff-arms all night despite a struggling offensive line and finished with 24 carries for 169 yards and four receptions for 42. The Hornets (1-1) had 325 yards total offense, but the Bees did what they had to do with their backs against the wall.
Medina finished with a whopping nine sacks, including three by Nunn and two by Tomasch. The Bees also allowed Highland to convert only 2-of-13 third downs and score just seven points in four red zone appearances.
The Hornets certainly contributed to their demise by being called for holding and intentional grounding within the 15-yard line, missing a 33-yard field goal and dropping a wide-open pass in the end zone while failing to take advantage of interceptions by Bryce Profitt, Charlie Myers and Brady Linder.
“We played sloppy,” Highland coach Mike Gibbons said. “I felt like we were moving the ball, but that fumble where they scooped and scored was tough, and we had a lot of dropped passes (4) and missed protections by the offensive line.
“We’ve got to develop more of an identity here on offense.”
Thanks largely to Profitt and Myers picks of Ryan Fischer (9-for-20, 139 yards, TD), Highland trailed only 7-0 and was driving in the final minutes of the first half. A holding penalty pushed the ball from the 10-yard line to the 22, and quarterback Jack McGinty (14-for-23, 161 yards; 19 carries, minus-5 yards) attempted to scramble up the middle.
McGinty was met at the line of scrimmage by Spatny, whose jarring hit popped the ball free. It bounced off a diving Nunn’s helmet and into the arms of Chester, who sprinted 78 yards to the house for the third-longest fumble return TD in school history.
The momentum-changer became devastating when Jacob Vogrin tacked on a 23-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half, making it a three-score game at 17-0.
“I was spying down as a safety, and I came out and saw the ball come loose,” Chester said. “I was waiting for it to pop out because I saw Noah Nunn dive. It happened to pop out, and I was in the right place at the right time.
“Obviously, it was a big momentum swing. There’s always momentum swings in football. It’s just how you bounce back from them.”
Medina’s offense had an inconsistent night outside of a 45-yard burn-the-cornerback TD reception by Luke Hensley and a seven-play, 63-yard drive that answered Highland’s lone score — a McGinty 1-yard sneak on fourth down — late in the third quarter.
The Bees also had their troubles on third down, converting 2-of-9, and failed on fourth down from the 50 and Highland 38 in the first half. Running back Daylonte Davis (12 carries, 65 yards, TD) was solid, freshman Matt Spatny had a beautiful diving catch to set up Hensley’s TD and Chris Kelly (4 catches, 53 yards) had three first downs.
With the way the defense played, however, that hardly mattered.
“Our defensive coordinator (Mike Rodak) has been preaching it since the beginning,” Nunn said. “It doesn’t matter where we are on the field. We always have the opportunity to turn it around or make a play.
“We didn’t get down and we didn’t get nervous. We just played our game when we got in the red zone and it worked out for us.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
Medina 24, Highland 7
HIGHLAND 0 0 7 0 — 7
MEDINA 0 14 10 0 — 24
M — Luke Hensley 45 pass from Ryan Fischer (Jacob Vogrin kick), 11:51.
M — Nick Chester 78 fumble return (Vogrin kick), 0:24.
M — Vogrin 23 field goal, 8:30.
H — Jack McGinty 1 run (Justin Tepes kick), 4:56.
M — Daylonte Davis 4 run (Vogrin kick), 2:45.