Two halves. Two completely different games.
In the first half, St. Mary Central Catholic ground out a 7-2 advantage over Margaretta in each team's Sandusky Bay Conference opener. In the second, the Polar Bears struck back with a 29-0 onslaught. When the dust settled, Margaretta earned the 31-7 win.
"In the first half, they knew everything that they were going to do -- They were stuffing everything. We were just flat," Margaretta running back Corey Yontz said. "Then we came out (after the half) and got the job done."
Yontz had a lot to do with the Bears' turnaround: He finished with a 185 yards on 24 carries (7.7 average) and ran for four touchdowns. He broke off for an 80-yard on the first play of the second half that woke the Polar Bears (3-1, 1-0 SBC) from their first-half hibernation.
The Panthers' offense started strong, but stalled at halftime. In the third and fourth quarters, the SMCC rushing attack lost six yards.
"I think we grew up a lot," Margaretta coach Rock Farlow said. "We handled the adversity. That's something that has plagued us for a long time."
St. Mary drove down the field on their second possession, a monster 17-play, 82-yard drive that took 8:36 off the clock. On third and goal from the nine-yard line, quarterback Patrick Sennish connected with Adam Guerra alone in the end zone. The Panthers led, 7-0.
SMCC's defense turned back Margaretta deep in Panther territory three times. Garrett Kowalski intercepted a pass by Devin Jones at the St. Mary two-yard line. The Polar Bears still scored, however, stopping the St. Mary backfield for a safety, cutting the Panthers' lead to 7-2.
With 1:34 to play in the half, the Panthers (1-3, 0-1 SBC) forced a fumble on a rush between the tackles and the ball bounced into the end zone. Alex Guerra recovered it for a touchback.
Trying to convert a third-and-13 with less than a minute to play, Sennish lobbed a pass around the 30-yard line, but Margaretta safety Craig Galindo was waiting. He intercepted the pass and took it back to the four-yard line.
Margaretta, trying one more time for that first offensive score, had a touchdown run by Devin Jones called back on a hold. Four plays later on fourth-and-16, Guerra broke up a pass to Galindo.
St. Mary went to half up, 7-2, but their lead only lasted 16 seconds into the second half.
On the first snap of the third quarter, Yontz ripped off his 80-yard touchdown run up the left sideline. The two-point conversion was successful for the Bears' 10-7 lead.
"I knew the holes were open, but I couldn't do anything," he said. "In that second half, the holes were wide open. I saw it, got the cutback and went all the way.
"It was really important to get one on that first drive, get the momentum up."
From there, the field seemed to tilt downhill toward the St. Mary endzone. Yontz scored again with 3:22 left in the third ... Again in the fourth with 10:54 to play ... And one more with 8:20 to go.
"We get that bruising out of him, but at the same time, if he gets out in the open, he's pretty fast, he's pretty special," Farlow said. "He's worked hard and he's earned all that."
The difference in the halves was execution, said St. Mary coach Ryan Wikel. In the first half, the Panthers executed and won. In the second, they made mistakes and lost big. They're not good enough to make mistakes, Wikel said.
"It's all got to come from their minds," he said. "It's all a mental game right now. Margaretta didn't do anything different but attack our weak side a little bit, and we adjusted. (Margaretta) just executed better in the second half.
"We're leaving with a bitter taste in our mouth. We were winning at half and hoped to compete and walk off the field with a victory. But I guess with every experience you've got to take something positive out of it."
Brandon Green led the Panthers' rushing attack with 10 carries for 64 yards. Sennish added 44 yards on 16 carries and Jon Sciarappa had six yards on two carries.
The Polar Bears will try to regroup against a reeling Perkins (0-4, 0-1 SBC) next Friday night. Margaretta travels to Oak Harbor (3-1, 1-0 SBC) in a battle to stay on top of the conference.
Margaretta 0 2 14 15 -- 31
SMCC 0 7 0 0 -- 7
SM -- Guerra 8 pass from Sennish (Pat Sennish kick)
M -- Team safety
M -- Yontz 80 run (Jones run)
M -- Yontz 5 run (kick failed)
M -- Yontz 7 run (Yontz run)
M -- Yontz 15 run (Moore kick)
First downs 21 5
Rushes-Yards 50-272 26-74
Pass yards 54 24
Comp-Att-Int 4-11-1 4-8-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-2
Penalties-Yards 5-45 4-37
M: Jones 9-42, Yontz 24-185, Van Scoy 10-43, Kane 2-20; Houch 2-6; SMCC: P. Sennish 16-44, Green 10-64, Sciarrapa 2-6
M: Jones 4-11-54-0-1; SMCC: Sennish 4-8-24-1-1
M: Galindo 4-54; SMCC: Carruthers 1-5, Guerra 1-8, E. Sennish 2-9