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In recent years, the Nordonia High School football team's season-opening game against Mayfield has felt more like a traditional rivalry contest.
More than likely, this year's opener added even more fuel to that particular fire.
That's because the Knights edged the Wildcats in dramatic fashion Aug. 26, winning by the score of 38-37. Due to Boliantz Stadium, the game took place at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
It was a game that wasn't decided until the final seconds. In fact, Nordonia needed a missed extra point attempt by Mayfield to secure the victory.
"It was a very intense game," said Nordonia head coach Jeff Fox. "Everybody knows there's a consistent history of competitive games between these two teams, which are similar in a lot of ways. These are tough kids playing hard-nosed football."
To say it was an intense game might be an understatement. A total of 42 points were scored in the first quarter alone, as both teams accounted for 21 points.
Senior running back Anthony Perrine scored two of Nordonia's three touchdowns in the opening period, first on a 10-yard burst across the goal line and then on a 55-yard gallop to pay dirt. The Knights also reached the end zone on a 62-yard fumble return for a touchdown by junior defensive end Tye Evans to open the scoring.
Mayfield tallied the only points in the second period. As a result, the Wildcats led 28-21 at intermission.
Mayfield extended its lead to 31-21 on a field goal in the third quarter, but Nordonia answered when sophomore quarterback Robby Levak hit senior wide receiver Ryan Smith with a 15-yard touchdown pass. The Knights then surged ahead 35-31 in the fourth stanza when Levak connected with junior wide receiver Donny Wizniak on a 26-yard scoring throw.
Nordonia senior placekicker Trey Crockett padded Nordonia's lead with a 38-yard field goal with 6:51 left in the fourth frame. That put the Knights up by a 38-31 margin.
Mayfield drew to within a point by scoring a touchdown with a mere 22 seconds remaining in regulation. However, the Wildcats' placekicker pushed his extra point attempt wide right.
Perrine led Nordonia's offensive attack, rushing for 213 yards on 34 carries and scoring two touchdowns. In addition, Levak was efficient under center, completing 12-of-19 pass attempts for 135 yards and two scores.
Wizniak was the leading receiver for Nordonia, hauling in five receptions for 70 yards.
"After a dropped pass and a fumble early in the game, Donny's perseverance personally mirrored what our team did as a group," said Fox. "Our kids responded well to adversity to come back at the end."
Evans caught three passes for 27 yards, while Perrine nabbed two throws for 20 yards. Accounting for one reception apiece were senior wide receiver Alec Burkholder and Smith.
Fox praised the Knights' offensive line, which created holes for Perrine and provided protection for Levak. That line consists of senior Jake Bobnar, senior Jovan Diouf, junior Noah Howard, junior Michael Dudich, senior Dylan Franchino, and senior Je'rell Huddleston.
"Dylan and Je'rell were asked to play both ways, offensively and defensively," said Fox. "That can be grueling over the course of a game."
On Sept. 2, Nordonia is scheduled to visit Bedford. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
"Bedford is coming off a big victory, and they're a talented team," said Fox. "This will be another intense game for us."