MANSFIELD – As the cold rain and the swirling wind bombarded Arlin Field, most of Friday’s game between Mansfield Senior and Mount Vernon looked like a still photograph.
Cheerleaders huddled together to keep warm. Players on both sides stood motionless in their rain parkas. The few fans who braved the weather sat as if frozen to the bleachers.
Angelo Grose was immune.
The Tygers’ senior scored three touchdowns and averaged more than 40 yards per catch as he led his team to a decisive, 33-19 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
“He’s a very special player,” Mansfield coach Chioke Bradley said. “It’s always special to have great athletes here at Mansfield Senior, to help them and excel. And Angelo’s one of them. He’s another testament to that.”
The Tygers dedicated the game to the memory of former educator and coach Doug Castle, who passed away early Friday morning. Castle enjoyed a successful career over several decades mentoring students, and was even hired by Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to be an academic motivator.
During the game, flowers were placed on a marker near the east end zone to honor Castle.
Grose made his mark early. Five minutes into the game, he caught a pass while running a post pattern in stride, and sprinted into the end zone to tie the game at 7. Grose was double-covered on the play. He was double-covered on most plays. It didn’t matter.
He actually began much earlier: Grose took the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
In the third quarter, Grose took a short pass and, after breaking several tackles, ran 88 yards for another score. The touchdown gave Mansfield Senior (4-5 overall, 2-3 in the OCC) a 21-7 lead it would not relinquish.
“We’ve stressed all week about staying on your assignments. And, against a team like (Mansfield), if you blow an assignment, they have the athletes to take it the distance,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Kerr. “They are a great football team that made a lot of nice adjustments. We have to keep them in front of us so they don’t get those big plays.”
Grose lined up in the backfield as well. He took six carries for 27 yards, including a 9-yard scamper for his third touchdown and the Tygers’ final points of the game.
The Yellow Jackets stayed competitive in the first half. They opened the scoring with a 60-yard touchdown from Noah Hubbard to Cory Berg. But it would be the last success Mount Vernon would have in the air.
Hubbard finished just 3 of 11 for 53 yards and two interceptions. Backup Trey Davidson fared little better: 1-for-3, 11 yards, one pick.
Mount Vernon punctuated its early passing attack with a solid ground game. Wyatt Gregory finished with 104 yards on 26 attempts. But it was Austin Kerr – a big junior listed as an offensive lineman – who provided the spark for the Jackets. Kerr barreled through the Mansfield defense six times for 26 yards.
“We’ve thought about it earlier in the season, because he is such a great athlete,” Coach Kerr said. “We knew coming in he would be part of the gameplan. Unfortunately, we got down so we weren’t able to get the ball to him as much as I wanted.”
The Tygers took the lead for good midway through the second quarter when quarterback Cameron Todd scrambled 19 yards for a touchdown. The score gave Mansfield a 14-7 lead at the break.
Amajeon Robertson caught a 4-yard pass in the third to give the Tygers a 27-7 bulge.
Mount Vernon (3-6, 1-4 OCC) managed to score two safeties in the fourth period. The rare pair began when Mansfield’s snap sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone. Later, Jason Johnson was tackled in his own end zone.
Isaiah Mickley took the ensuing free kick 59 yards for a Mount Vernon touchdown.
Mansfield Senior travels to Madison to face its bitter rival next Friday. The win on Senior Night ended a three-game home losing streak, the team’s longest in 11 years.
The Tygers are not mathematically eliminated from postseason competition just yet, but the team needs a win next week – and a lot of help.
“It’s a huge win, especially the way this season has gone,” Bradley said. “There are a lot of things we wish we could have done differently. But to win here, in their last game, in the best stadium in the state of Ohio, is priceless.”
Next Friday, the Jackets host West Holmes in their finale.