MAYFIELD—Shortly after North’s 31-16 win at Mayfield on Friday, Shawn Dodd referred to his players as the “Resilient Rangers,” and for good reason.
After a 1-4 start, the Rangers have now won three straight, including an upset of Western Reserve Conference leader Brush last week, and have moved into the top eight of the Division II, Region 5 playoff standings.
“They’re an incredible group of kids,” Dodd said. “I know I sound like a broken record, but it was an unbelievable team effort with some tremendous individual performances tonight. We told these seniors we needed them to step up and called them up and boy did they rise to the occasion. The offensive line, with what they’ve been able to do, it’s just been a great few weeks.”
North’s win over the Wildcats started up front where the offensive and defensive lines did their part to lead the Rangers to 371 yards of offense while limiting Mayfield to just 205.
Mayfield rushed for just 22 yards on 19 carries.
“The offensive line and defensive line have been lights out the last two weeks,” Dodd said. “Brush didn’t rush for a whole lot and it didn’t seem like Mayfield ran for a lot tonight either.”
Taking a page out his playbook from the win over the Arcs last Friday, Dodd employed the same time-consuming, grind it out offensive strategy that kept Brush standout Godwin Joe on the sidelines for most of the night.
North held the ball for 32:50 while the Mayfield offense possessed it for just 14:56.
This time, Dodd’s goal was to keep the explosive Bobby Casey from causing too much damage after scoring four touchdowns for Mayfield in a win over Madison in Week 7.
“Scheme-wise, as far as the Xs and Os, there’s no trick or secret we’re doing that nobody else does,” Dodd said. “We just put it on the backs of the kids to make the plays and it really comes down to that. We’re really challenging the kids to step up and the kids are absolutely doing that.”
North opened the game with a 15-play drive that stalled at the Mayfield 6. While the drive didn’t result in points, it did chew up over seven minutes of game clock.
The Wildcats responded with a 37-yard field goal by Andrew Curl, set up by a 55-yard pass from Michael Huss to Casey.
Mayfield then blocked a Jake Tanski punt but missed on a 44-yard field goal attempt.
North took over at its own 20 and Tanski engineered a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Streb. Tanski’s two-point conversion run gave the Rangers an 8-3 lead with 6:53 remaining in the first half.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Huss and Casey connected again, this time on a 21-yard scoring pass that put the Wildcats back on top, 9-8.
Spencer Wood’s 25-yard field goal with 39 seconds left gave the Rangers an 11-9 halftime lead.
Brett Payne ran for two touchdowns in the second half and finished the game with 157 yards on 38 carries.
“I knew I had to run hard,” Payne said. “Our offensive line did a great job. It was fun.”
Tanski completed 10 of 15 passes for 180 yards two scores, both targeted Streb, who finished with five receptions for 109 yards.
“It just came down to third down and coach was like, ‘Hey, what do you want to do?’” Streb said. “I’m like, ‘Just throw it,’ and we threw it. Jake had faith in me and I just had to go up and make a play.”
North improved to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the WRC while Mayfield dropped to 4-4, 2-3. The Rangers travel to Madison on Friday while Mayfield heads to South.
“We see it as we’ve got nothing to lose,” said Streb of the winning streak. “We have a big senior class and we’re like let’s just have fun when we’re doing it. No pressure, go out there and ball out and that’s pretty much what we’ve been doing the last four games.”