By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — Two big first half interception returns for touchdowns provided the spark and three long second half touchdowns runs the clincher as Medina posted a 46-14 victory over Dunkirk Friday at Vets Park in the semifinals of the Class B Chuck Funke Memorial Consolation Bowl.
Lonnie Taylor and Danny Barnes returned pass interceptions for touchdowns giving Medina a narrow 16-14 half-time lead. Jake Cotriss, Danny Brown and Brett Pecoraro then each broke loose for a long touchdown runs in the second half to lock up the victory.
Dunkirk did grab a 6-0 first quarter lead on a 38 yard touchdown pass from Kevin Burns to Jared Meirnik for what proved to be the Mauraders only lead.
Medina, which offensively was plagued by penalties in the early going, including one which wiped out a long touchdown run, turned to the defense to get things untracked in the second quarter.
First, Taylor made a leaping interception and raced 30 yards for a touchdown to get Medina on the scoreboard at 9:44 of the second quarter. Quarterback Jason Hellwig added the two-point convesion pass to Ben Austin giving the Mustangs the lead for good at 8-6.
Then with 2:25 to go in the quarter Barnes intercepted a pass and raced 85 yards for a touchdown. Cotriss added the two-point conversion carry to make it 16-6.
“We struggled a bit offensively early with penalties and mistakes but our defense really stepped up big for us and made the plays when they needed to,” Medina head coach Eric Valley said.
Dunkirk did captialize on an interception to score a touchdown with just 18 seconds to go in the half on a one yard run by Zach Torain. Burns added the two-point conversion pass to Nate Scubis cutting the deficit to 16-14 but the Marauders would get no closer.
The Mustangs wasted little time in getting that one back as Cotriss broke loose for a 52 yard touchdown run on the first snap of the second half. He tacked on the two-point conversion run quickly boosting the Mustangs lead to 24-14.
“I knew we had to come out in the second half and establish the run and that score on the very first play definitely shifted things for us,” Valley said.
Medina added two more points late in the quarter when Dunkirk gave up a safety after a high snap from center sent the ball into the end zone.
Medina then broke the contest wide open in the fourth quarter scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions on runs of 14 yards by Taylor, 97 by Brown and 54 by Pecoraro. Derek Fuller added the two-point conversion run after the final score.
The Mustang defensive unit’s efforts also included two sacks by Austin and a fumble recovery by Ben McPherson along with a big hit by Zach Newton which forced a Dunkirk fumble in the Medina endzone on the Mauraders first possession as Taylor made the recovery for the Mustangs.
Improving to 5-3, Medina will next face East for the Class B Consolation Bowl title on Thursday. East defeated Maryvale 34-17 in the other semifinal.