Pat Catan Stadium, OH- On a night that was supposed to be a joyous homecoming celebration for the Strongsville Mustangs, Senior QB Danny Stoddard and his Bees made sure the only fireworks lit up on their side of the field. With an electrifying display of offensive and defensive prowess, the Bees trounced the Mustangs 56-21, leaving the Strongsville fans stunned and silenced on homecoming night.
From the opening moments of the game, it was clear that Stoddard meant business.
"I've never had six touchdowns in a half before. It was pretty awesome," the Bees Senior QB said after the game. "They were playing man-to-man defense and we took everything they were giving us."
With the confidence of a seasoned quarterback, he unleashed a 66-yard pass that landed perfectly in the hands of Senior WR Austin Knowles, who ran a perfect igniting the scoring frenzy that would define the evening. Knowles' breakneck speed and precise route-running had him leave the Mustangs' defenders in his dust, finding the end zone effortlessly for one of his three first half touchdown receptions.
With nearly a whopping 170 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions, Knowles cemented his name as one of the top high school receivers in the Northeast Ohio area.
However, it wasn't just a effort from Stoddard and Knowles. Senior 6-foot-4 WR Nathan Angus was on the receiving end of Stoddard's magic for two of the most electrifying passes of the game including a 24-yard touchdown reception on a perfectly placed over the shoulder pass
(Tweet via Noah Jacobson from Sports On Tap Podcast)
The synergy between Stoddard and his receivers were evident all evening. The QB made it look effortless, as if they were conducting a practice session rather than a high-pressure conference game. His connection was a thing of beauty and precision, leaving fans, scouts, and Medina Head Coach Larry Laird alike in awe of their performance.
"We practice situations like this all time," said Laird postgame. "Danny threw the ball well tonight. The back shoulder to Nathan, a couple passes to Austin, I just thought really placed the ball real well where only our guys could track it. I also believe Dylan Whitehill had one of his best games today.”
Whitehill scored on the second drive of the game off a 54-yard touchdown reception from Stoddard.
Strongsville, known for their strong defense, seemed unprepared for the aerial onslaught. Whether it was due to the homecoming festivities, the pressure of the big game, or simply being outplayed, the Mustangs could not find a consistent rhythm on either side of the ball until the second half.
Junior QB Harsh Patel, who's filling in for injured star QB Nolan Good who's out for the remainder of the season with a leg injury sustained in Week 1, led the Mustangs to two scoring drives in the second half. Patel finished the game with two passing touchdowns. Patel also had two turnovers, as he was picked off in the second quarter by junior safety Tallen Hulvey and fumbled the ball on a 4th and 1 that would've kept the chains moving
As the playoffs are slowly creeping up for now the (5-2, 3-1 GCC) Bees can bask in the glory of a job well done, but they quickly have to close this chapter and prepare for whom many have favored to win the Greater Cleveland Conference. Next week they travel to "Thee Heights" for a battle with the Cleveland Heights Tigers (6-1, 4-0 GCC) for a chance to take control of the conference. A loss all but secures the conference championship for the Tigers. Strongsville (3-4, 2-2 GCC) will look to bounce back and ensure that their homecoming setback is but a minor blip in their campaign as they travel to Shaker Heights for a battle with the Red Raider (6-1, 3-1 GCC) who are fresh off their first lost of the season against Mentor.