Anthony Guercio knew Friday night’s matchup against Midview was going to be a dogfight. And for three-and-a-half quarters, it was just that as the junior quarterback and the North Olmsted Eagles were tied with the Middies in the fourth quarter.
In the end, though, Guercio and the Eagles tacked on two more scores late in the game to come away with a 34-20 Southwestern Conference victory.
“(Amherst’s) got some big boys on that team,” Guercio said. “It’s about the heart that we came out there with. We weren’t surprised it was neck-and-neck in the fourth quarter. We were ready to come out there and just compete.”
Guercio finished with 17 of 28 passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 76 yards rushing and a touchdown as well. Many of Guercio’s rushing yards and big plays came after escaping a collapsed pocket and extending plays.
Both teams traded scores through the first two quarters and went into halftime tied at 13-13. At the start of the third quarter on North Olmsted’s first drive, Guercio found the end zone from 4 yards out. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Midview running back Zac Gill (94 yards and a touchdown) capped off a 10-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown.
In the fourth quarter facing a fourth and goal from the Midview 17, Guercio rolled out and connected with Zachary Doucette to put the Eagles up by two touchdowns and seal the game in the waning minutes.
“You’re on the headphones and you’re like, ‘Throw it, throw it, throw it!’ and then he doesn’t and then the extends the play 10 more yards and we get an 80-yard touchdown,” North Olmsted coach Tim Brediger said. “He’s a young kid that just loves football. He’s a gym rat, he’s here before school throwing with his buddies, he stays after and his attitude has started to grab our team.”
The junior’s favorite target on the night was junior receiver Langdon Kurtz who was on the end of two touchdowns and totaled 117 receiving yards including a 66-yard strike in the third quarter.
North Olmsted (4-2, 4-1 SWC) dealt with pressure from Midview’s (3-3, 2-3 SWC) front seven for most of the game. Offensively, the Middies got a strong performance from sophomore quarterback Ethan Surdock (17 of 28 passing, 206 yards and two touchdowns). Ultimately, though, penalties and missed field goals derailed Midview drives and coach DJ Shaw acknowledged after the game that his team has a lot to clean up.
“We had too many penalties and missed assignments,” Shaw said. “You're not going to win a football game like that. Our guys are giving 100% effort (but) we're just not getting it done. We're a young team that's learning every day but we took a step back this week. We need to look in the mirror and figure out how to execute. If you don't execute, you don't win games.”
The victory has extra importance in the conference, as the Eagles jumped into a tie for fourth place with Amherst, which lost to Avon Lake 35-0 Friday. The Eagles still have to play the current top-three teams (Avon, Avon Lake and Olmsted Falls) in their final four games.
“They’re a young group,” Brediger said of his team. “I think they’re starving for football right now. Practices have been fun. They’ve been after it. They’re energetic and all you can ask is to prepare, plan and show up and play. We know what we’re up against these next couple weeks. It’s going to be rough but this win gives us some momentum at least, keeps them engaged, keeps them focused and who knows. You never know what could happen.”
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