SHAKER HTS. — The improvement of the Medina football team has been noticeable in many areas this season.
Its glaring problem? The remaining issues are still leading to losses in the record book.
Surrendering big plays and making untimely mistakes on offense were the Bees’ undoing Saturday afternoon as they lost to Shaker Heights 50-30 in Northeast Ohio Conference River Division action.
The outcome was still in doubt until the Red Raiders (5-2, 1-1) put it on ice with 41- and 55-yard touchdown passes from Brian Jones (9-for-13, 241 yards, 4 total TDs) to Ramses Owens (186 yards from scrimmage, 22 points) midway through the fourth quarter.
“Every time we play a good team, we give up a big play and our heads are down,” Medina coach Dan Sutherland said. “We’ve got to learn to put the ball down and play another play. Big plays are going to happen on both sides of the ball. It’s how you react to them.”
The Bees were without injured fullback Jerry Klue, tight end Troy Grabowski and linebackers Brandon Fischer and Mike Armstrong. They also had limited use of offensive tackle Austin Hazek, yet kept an early 16-point deficit within reason for most of the game.
Medina trailed 22-17 early in the third and had a chance to make it, at minimum, 30-23 late in the quarter, but shot itself in the foot on multiple occasions.
The inconsistency on both sides of the ball negated a breakout game from slotback Kyle Scherer (168 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards) and a career-high 187 passing yards and three touchdowns from Collin Minor.
“As a program, we’ve got to learn that when things don’t go our way, we’ve got to step up,” Sutherland said.
The Bees’ inability to potentially grab the lead came down to three momentum-swinging plays.
The first came when Greg Claytor intercepted Minor on Medina’s second play from scrimmage and went 26 yards to the house. The second was when Owens returned a squib kick 63 yards to set up his own 4-yard TD run that made it 30-17, and the third was shortly thereafter when the Bees failed to produce points after facing first-and-10 from the Red Raiders 31-yard line.
The miscues resulted directly in the deciding 20 points. Medina also gave up eight plays of more than 20 yards against an offensive line that averages 6-foot-2, 271 pounds and features big-time Division I prospect Ja’Merez Bowen.
“Our kids fought for three quarters,” Sutherland said. “In the end, their size and strength just wore us down.”
Medina was on the verge of getting hammered following two TDs by Claytor (14 carries, 104 yards) and a 39-yard pass from Jones to Odell Spencer (4 receptions, 96 yards) that made it 22-7 with 6:20 left in the first half.
The Bees then mounted a mini-comeback, only to leave points on the field. They had first-and-goal from the 6 shortly before halftime and, two Minor sacks later, settled for a 36-yard Dean McNeil field goal.
The momentum was kept when Ian Crawley bowled over to make it 22-17 early in the third quarter, but Ramses came up with arguably his biggest play on the ensuing kickoff.
Though McNeil boomed two touchbacks in the first half, the Bees elected to squib kick into the wind. The Red Raiders coaching staff predicted the move and switched Owens to up-back.
Owens returned the kickoff to the Medina 19 and scored three plays later.
“Maybe in hindsight we should have kicked it deep, but with the wind we thought we should squib it on the ground,” Sutherland said. “We did not want to kick it 32 (Owens), but we ended up kicking it to 32.”
Still undeterred, Medina drove down the field and a long run by Scherer, who had seven carries of 11 or more yards on counters at Tennessee recruit Joe Henderson (2½ tackles for loss), made it first-and-10 at the Shaker Heights 31. However, the drive stalled and Jones scrambled into the end zone minutes later to push the ante to 36-17.
Medina’s last gasp came on Minor-to-Scherer 47-yard TD pass, setting the stage for the long Owens post routes in which he got behind the defense.
“We’ve got to put plays together and be more consistent across the board,” Sutherland said.
Medina punter Kenny Wilder made a heads-up play on fourth-and-long from his own 21 in the second half. Sensing the rush would block his punt, Wilder kept the ball, rolled right and hit Dalyn Herrmann for a 19-yard gain and first down. The drive ended in Crawley’s touchdown.
• The Red Raiders “Big Three” of Claytor, Owens and Spencer, who made a pair of acrobatic catches, combined for 386 of Shaker Heights’ 383 yards from scrimmage. The second string lost 7 yards.
• The 6-5, 285-pound Bowen blocked Medina’s Zac DiPerna onto the surrounding track and dislodged DiPerna’s helmet. No penalty was called, but offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties were assessed shortly thereafter when a Shaker Heights ballcarrier was pushed well into the Bees sideline.
• The Red Raiders’ band is 350 members strong and features 30 drummers that wore small cone hats and played kazoos at halftime.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.