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A decade of greatness

The games that absolutely took our breath away

Times Observer file photo Youngsville’s Cory Craig helped lead the Eagles to an undefeated regular season in 2011.

What makes a great game?

Is it the magnitude of the game, the excitement, or simply a moment that takes your breath away.

The truth is, it’s all of those things and more.

Warren County certainly had a lot of them this decade, and here are a few of our favorites.

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Times Observer file photo From left, Warren’s Simon Smith, Mitch Dorunda, Joey Close and Tristan Boger celebrate Boger’s goal in the 2014 D-10 title game vs. Slippery Rock.

Sept. 30, 2011: Youngsville football 25, Mercyhurst Prep 13

It’s somewhat fitting the first game on this list was arguably the biggest Youngsville win in four decades. The Eagles and Lakers came in with identical 4-0 records on the year. Mercyhurst had won the previous five meetings between the teams by a combined score of 208-22. There was just something different about this Youngsville team. The Eagles trailed, 13-6 at the half, but stepped up defensively in the second half. Youngsville also got its ground game going. Cory Craig had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs and hit Sam Lucas for a 22-yard touchdown strike to cement the win. Lucas and Jordan Gurdak both rushed for more than 100 yards while the Eagles defense kept the Lakers’ leading rusher, Cornelious Barclay to just 55 yards. Youngsville moved to 5-0 for the first time in 41 years and students and fans stormed the field.

Oct. 1, 2011: Coudersport football 7, Sheffield 6, OT

The 2011 Sheffield Wolverines sported a fierce defense and that defense was on full display against an undefeated Coudersport team on Wolverine Mountain. Sheffield grabbed a pair of interceptions on the afternoon and forced three fumbles, but the Wolverines offense couldn’t get past the stingy Falcons and the teams headed to overtime knotted at 0-0. Facing 4th-and-goal from the 17, Sheffield elected to go for it. Quarterback Shequan Wright threw a jump ball in the back corner of the endzone where Hector Collazo came down with it to get Sheffield on the board. Wright was stopped just short of the goalline on the 2-point attempt. The Wolverines defense appeared to have the Falcons looking at a third and long, but a pass interference penalty moved the ball to the 8. Mitch Freeman ran it in on the next play and Joel Pepper drilled the extra point for the win. Still, the Wolverines showed their defense was for real, they even held Falcons leading rusher Caden Whitman (115 ypg) to just 28 yards.

Dec. 18, 2012: Warren boys basketball 77, McDowell 75

Warren Area High School senior Sawyer Mohney (center) is mobbed by her teammates after scoring the District 10 title-clinching goal against Meadville, Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Fort LeBoeuf High School. Mohney’s marker gave the Lady Dragons their first District 10 title in program history.

Matt Sandberg delivered a game-winner for the ages, drilling a 3-pointer from NBA range to shock McDowell, 77-75. With 13.6 seconds left, Warren coach Jeff Berdine called timeout to set up the final sequence. Collin Fantaskey, who finished with 17 points, hit Sandberg in rhythm, and the rest was history. Austin Jerman had 10 points in the game for Warren, and also finishing with 10 points for McDowell was current Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back James Conner.

2012 District 10 Baseball Championship Game: Warren 2, Cathedral Prep 0

The Dragons captured their first D-10 baseball title in 35 years thanks to great pitching and timely hitting. Hank Morrison, who went on to start at Mercyhurst University before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins, tossed a complete game shutout against the Ramblers, and timely hitting in the sixth inning gave him all the cushion he needed. Preston McMeans’ RBI single with two strikes plated Matt Jaskolka to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead in the sixth, and Kory Thomas’ sacrifice fly later in the inning gave the Dragons all the scoring they would need.

Oct. 10, 2014: Warren football 79, Meadville 78

In a game that broke multiple offensive records, Warren’s Kyle Kulka ran for 333 yards and five touchdowns and Evan Suppa threw for a then-school records 338 yards and four scores in a wild win over Meadville. The game was actually decided by a defensive stuff by Warren against a vaunted Meadville rushing attack led by sophomore Journey Brown, who gained 323 yards on the ground. On Saturday, Brown set the Penn State bowl game rushing record with 202 yards in a 53-39 Cotton Bowl victory over Memphis. Fellow Bulldog running back Antonio Ferraro had 175 yards and four scores on the ground that also featured a school-record 49-yard field goal by Ryan Shattuck, who, along with D.J. Fehlman, had 100-yard receiving games.

2014 District 10 Boys Soccer Championship Game: Warren 1, Slippery Rock 0

It was only fitting with this Dragon team that they turned defense into offense. Defensive stalwart Joey Close made a steal and raced along the sideline, alluding a defender and playing a perfect ball to the front of the goal mouth that was put home by Tristan Boger in the second half, and the Dragons made that goal stand all the way to the final whistle, giving them the District 10 title at a snowy Sox Harrison Stadium at Edinboro University.

2015 PIAA Baseball Class A Quarterfinal: Eisenhower 3, Greensburg Central Catholic 2

As was the theme throughout its run to the state final, Eisenhower got dominant pitching from Casey Vincent and timely hitting from Louie Head in a 1-run victory over the top-ranked Centurions. GCC got on the board thanks to an error in the first inning, but Eisenhower took the lead in the second. A wild pitch with the bases loaded scored Chase Elmquist and, with two outs, Head smoked a 2-run single to center to put the Knights up 3-1. GCC got a run back in the fourth and threatened in the fifth, sixth and seventh. Each time, Vincent got a big strikeout. Fittingly, a grounder to Head at second ended the game and sent Eisenhower to the state semifinals.

2015 District 10 Soccer Quarterfinal: Eisenhower 2, Commodore Perry 1, 2-OT

Josh Eernisse’s goal in the second overtime lifted the Knights to a dramatic win that probably shouldn’t have gone to overtime in the first place. Eernisse scored in the first minute of the game, but the goal was waved up, and Commodore Perry took a 1-0 that lasted until the late stages of the second half. With three minutes to go, Casey Vincent blistered a shot that beat the Panther keeper, tying the game at 1-1 at setting up the overtime dramatics.

2017 District 10 Girls Volleyball Semifinal: Warren 3, Villa 2

The Victors took a 2-0 lead, the second game in extra points. During the second game, the Warren student section, delayed due to bus issues, arrived in force and made McDowell’s gym feel like the Joseph A. Massa gymnasium for the next three sets. The Dragons turned into the team they had been all season and stormed back to earn a trip to the District 10 title game.

Sept. 23, 2018: Northwestern football 37, Eisenhower 34, 2OT

During a week when many games across District 10 were postponed due to a severe weather threat, Eisenhower traveled to Northwestern where the two teams put on a show. The Knights went up early, but the Wildcats came back to take the lead late in the second half. Eisenhower answered and tied the game at 34-34. After blocking a field goal in the first overtime, the Knights appeared to have the game-winner on an Ethan Chambers run. The play was called back for a holding penalty and the teams went into a second overtime. Chambers was stopped inches short of the goalline on fourth down, and Preston Rusner connected on a 28-yard field goal to win it for the Wildcats. Chambers and Northwestern’s Jeremy Dohanic ran wild, combining for 372 total yards and seven touchdowns.

Feb. 4, 2019: Warren girls basketball 50, Villa 37

This game is an all-timer for so many reasons. First and foremost, Warren handed Villa its first District 10 loss in nearly four years. Adding to all the emotions was a star effort from senior guard Margo Loutzenhiser, who become the program’s all-time leading scorer in the fourth quarter from the free throw line, where she was 15-of-16 for the game. Freshman Emma Ruhlman came up huge as well, scoring 10 straight points in the fourth quarter on her way to 17 for the game.

2019 District 10 Baseball Championship Game: Warren 5, General McLane 4

Warren’s Ryan Rafalski and General McLane’s Matt Mountain were throwing up zeros until the fifth inning, when Warren senior catcher Aidan Morrison delivered the first big blow, a 3-run bomb to left-center that gave the Dragons a 3-0 lead. That margin was erased on just six pitches in the top of the sixth, when McLane’s Derek Fay matched Morrison’s feat, tying the game. McLane plated a run to take 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, but Mitch Grosch got on base to start the bottom of the seventh, Austyn Cummings tied the game and Ryan Rafalski delivered the D-10 title walkoff, all without an out being recorded in the inning.

Sept. 27, 2019: Eisenhower football 29, Cambridge Springs 27

A game of redemption, to be sure. Eisenhower fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter after giving up a trio of big plays. Quarterback Owen Trumbull ran it in twice and hit Dillon Benson for a touchdown to tie it at 20-20. Another big play put the Blue Devils back on top. Zane Alexander ran it in with eight minutes to go, but Jake Venman missed the PAT–his second miss of the game–and the Knights trailed 27-26. Eisenhower got the ball back with just under three minutes left and drove down to the 7 and spiked the ball with two seconds left. Venman came back out and drilled the 25-yard field goal to cap the biggest comeback in school history.

2019 District 10 Girls Soccer Championship Game: Warren 3, Meadville 2, OT

An injury-ravaged Warren girls soccer team kept finding ways to win in 2019. And they did so again in their second straight trip to the District 10 title game. MJ Fadale, just back from injury, headed in the game’s first goal less than 10 minutes in. Meadville tied it at 1-1 early in the second half, but Mikaala Deppen put the Dragons back on top after a scrum ended with the ball on her foot. The Bulldogs tied it again just a minute later. Meadville got the first chance in the sudden death overtime, but Warren turned the tide. Fadale drew a foul coming down the sideline and Sawyer Mohney put the free kick just under the crossbar and into the back of the net to give the Dragons the program’s first-ever District 10 title.

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