Lions Roar to Victory with Game Saving Tackle
September 1, 2021 by Alan Kornspan

With 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, the Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Lions were forced to punt.

With 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, the Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Lions were forced to punt.

Clinging to a 28-21 lead, Lions fans were urging their team on to victory.

The NDCL band played Seven Nation Army, the student body sang along, and there was an incredible energy in the air on this night.

After a change of possession following the punt, the Olentangy Braves drove down the field in a calm manner. It was almost as if they knew they were going to score. Overtime was on the brink.

With under a minute left on the clock, the Braves, behind a powerful offensive line and hard running by senior running back Malik Wade, took the ball up the middle from two yards out to make the score 28-27 with NDCL still up by one point.

The Braves did not hesitate. Clearly, the plan was to go for two.

They got set into formation and ran a jet sweep to the left, handing the ball off to senior wide receiver Dubby Agudosi.

But NDCL’s Ryan Niksa was not fooled, as he came flying around the left end to make a textbook tackle of Agudosi two and a half yards short of the goal line.

I saw them come out in the two-point and I knew they wanted to call game,” Niksa said. “I mean, they are a very good offense, too, and they wanted to end it right there.

We had to end the game.

That was one of the best moments of my life.”

The Lions began the scoring in the first quarter, quickly taking a 14-0 lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Koenig to Tim Mamone. This was followed by a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior free safety Matt Ferrell.

Ferrell described his amazing pick-six.

I was sitting there, got into my read steps,” Ferrell said. “As soon as I saw the ball bounce up from my teammates blocking that screen, I immediately just saw it. I was like ‘it’s right there’ and went and got it. Jumped up for it and ran.”

Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on five-yard touchdown run by senior running back Mark Tomei. On the night, Tomei carried the ball 22 times for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

NDCL Coach Andrew Mooney discussed his team’s quick start.

Our guys came out and responded right away,” he said. “They came out swinging. I told them last Friday night, that one of two things are going to happen. They are going to respond and show everyone the type of team that we know they are. Or they are going to pack it in. And nobody packed it in.”

The Braves scored their first touchdown of the night on an 18-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Ethan Grunkemeyer to senior wide receiver Dubby Agudosi to cut the lead to 21-7.

NDCL would then score its final points of the night on a two-yard touchdown run by Tomei. After the successful extra point attempt by junior NDCL kicker Gianni Spetic, NDCL led 28-7.

The Braves scored again shortly before the end of the first half on a touchdown run by Malik Wade, closing the gap to 28-14 heading in to halftime.

Early in the third quarter, Olentangy’s Grunkemeyer connected with Dubby Agudosi for an 18-yard touchdown pass. After a successful extra point attempt by senior Hayden Olcott, the Braves trailed 28-21 with 10:38 left in the third quarter.

Olentangy would complete its scoring in the final minute of the game with Malik Wade’s second touchdown of the night to make the final score Lions 28, Braves 27.

The Defense did what a good defense does,” Mooney said. “They pull you up. They made huge plays all night, every time we needed a big play. There was a tipped ball and a guy flying through the air to get it. And that was what was missing from last week.”

Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin next takes on the Kenston Bombers in a match-up of Geauga County football powerhouses at home on Sept. 3.