By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — BUFFALO - Big defensive plays highlighted the action as Medina rolled to a 34-18 victory over East High Friday in a B East Division Game played at Riverside High.
Turnovers turned into touchdowns by Ben Austin and Lonnie Taylor capped off the huge night for the Medina defensive unit which also included an interception by Kyle Barna along with no less that four other stops of East drives inside the Medina 30.
"Our defense played great," Medina head coach Eric Valley said. "They just did a great job. East is a challenging team to defend but our kids did a real nice job. We hadn't really been forcing any turnovers so to force three of them and return two for touchdowns was a huge lift for our defense."
Offensively the Mustangs got touchdown runs by Barna and Danny Brown along with a touchdown pass from Dan Barnes to Barna.
The victory boosts Medina's record to 2-1 in the division and 3-2 overall as the Mustangs rebounded strongly from the 63-26 loss at Depew.
East did jump out to a 6-0 first quarter lead as a big 50 yard return of the opening kickoff set up a seven yard touchdown run by quarterback Jevente Glover.
However, the Medina defensive unit quickly settled down and came up with huge stops deep in Mustangs territory on the Panthers next two possessions.
First, tackles for loss by Barna on third down and by Forest Harper on fourth down stopped an East drive at the Medina 13.
Then Brandon Schoolcraft recovered an East fumble to stop a Panther drive at the Medina 26.
"That opening kickoff hurt us but then we buckled right down," Valley said.
Keeping the momentum, the Medina offensive unit then quickly drove for a score. A big 34 yard pass completion from Barnes to Taylor ignited that drive which was also highlighted by runs of 19 yards by Barna and12 by Jake Cotriss. Barna capped off the drive with a one yard touchdown run and quarterback Jason Hellwig added the two-point conversion pass to Barnes puttling the Mustangs on to pot stay at 8-6 with 6:04 to go in the second quarter.
The Medina defense came up big again late in the quarter as an interception and retune by Barna gave the Mustangs possession at the East nine yard line. And the offense was quick to capitalize as Brown scored on a four yard run with 57 second remaining in the half to up the Mustangs lead to 14-6.
The Mustangs waited little time in upping the advantage to 20-6 as Hellwig connected with Barna on an eight yard touchdown pass just 2:04 into the third quarter. A 19 yard run by Cotriss ignited the drive which started at the East 40 after a 20 yard kickoff return by Barnes and a 15 yard penalty against the Panthers.
The Mustangs defensive unit then capped off the big night in dramatic fashion with a pair of fourth quarter touchdown plays.
First, Austin stole the ball from an East ball carrier and raced 70 yards up the sideline for a touchdown. Hellwig added the two-point conversion run upping the Medina lead to 28-6.
Then with just under five minutes remaining, Taylor intercepted a pass and raced 15 yards into the end-zone for a 34-12 Medina lead.
"We ran the ball well, did a good job on special teams and played great defense," said Valley. "I'm really proud of their effort and the way they bounced back."
Glover scored two touchdown for East in the final quarter on runs of three and 30 yards.
The loss drops East to 2-2 ad 2-3 overall.
Medina next hosts B East leading Alden at 7:30 p.m. Friday for Homecoming. Alden defeated Depew 34-13 Friday in a battle of unbeatens to take over the division lead.