Mason defeats Lebanon 34-16 to advance in play-offs

Cody Allgor | Sports Writer

Junior quarterback Michael Molnar rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns in the Comets’ victory.

On Friday, October 9, the fourth-seeded Mason Comets defeated the Lebanon Warriors 34-16 in the expanded playoffs opener. Due to COVID-19, the playoffs were expanded to the entire OHSAA, excluding teams who decided to opt-out. The playoffs are in a one-and-done format, meaning that any week could be the last for the Comets.

In the opening drive of the game for the Comets, junior quarterback Micheal Molnar ran 63 yards to the one-yard line. That led to a score by running back Nolan McCormick to put the Comets up 7-0 early. Molnar said that he was excited to get the Comets rolling. 

“I was excited to give the team momentum,” Molnar said. “I don’t think we have scored a touchdown in the first drive all year so that was big for us.”

After a couple of big defensive stops for the Comets, Molnar’s running game stayed effective, as he plugged it into the endzone twice in less than two minutes. McCormick added to the lead after another defensive stop, giving the Comets a 27-0 lead after a missed extra point. The Warriors would put a safety on the board before the half, cutting the deficit to twenty-five.

In the middle of the third quarter, Molnar rushed for his third and final touchdown of the night, capping a three-touchdown and 123-yard night on the ground. Head Coach Brian Castner said that he told Molnar that sometimes his running ability is going to be critical. 

“I’ve been telling [Molnar] for weeks now that there are times when he’s going to have to force a run because of how much of a weapon he is with a ball in his hands,” Castner said. “He makes a read and if he stays true to that read, sometimes every once in a while, he’s gonna have to pull it and go. When he runs, he runs like a deer and he runs well and he’s a strong kid.”

After a dominant first three quarters, the Mason defense gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns, finalizing the score at 34-16. Castner said that even though the defense has been good, there is always room for improvement.

“[The defense] has been big for weeks,” Castner said. “We’re tackling well and we’re doing some good things. We can get better. There’s no doubt about it. But, for the most part, our defense is swarming to the ball and they got a good feel for where the ball is going.”

Both Molnar and McCormick had over 100 yards on the ground, a very rare sight with a quarterback-running back duo. Molnar said that he enjoys giving the ball to McCormick, knowing that he will produce.

“Having McCormick in the backfield makes it super easy, I love it,” Molnar said. “I love giving the ball to him because I know we’re gonna get at least four or five yards every play with our good O-line.”

The Comets will stay home next week, as they play against a Greater Miami Conference (GMC) foe in the Colerain Cardinals. Castner said that he enjoys the home-field advantage, and is excited to play the conference rival.

“I think it’s good to be at home,” Castner said. “We’re a four seed now getting ready to go against Colerain. We’ll be excited to prepare for another GMC opponent, and they have to come to us.”