Story by John Blake
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
The Berea-Midpark Titans weren't about to let another lead slip away.
Berea-Midpark, leading at halftime against visiting Westlake, made the plays down the stretch to close out a 22-15 overtime win in Southwestern Conference play Friday night at George Finnie Stadium.
It was a welcomed turn from a week prior when Berea-Midpark led 18-7 at North Olmsted and suffered a 21-18 loss.
"We talk about this so much," said Titans head coach Ray Hradek, whose team improved to 3-4 on the season. "Everything that we've done, they do what we ask of them.They deserve victory.
"We finished this game because that was our deal from last week. We wanted to finish," he said.
The Titans needed just one play in the overtime period to seal the deal. Running back Justin Harris juked 20 yards for a touchdown on the first play, and the Berea-Midpark defense stonewalled the Demons to close out the victory.
"We were ready to go, but you can't let them score on the first play," said Westlake head coach Mark Campo, whose team fell to 4-4.
"That's a take-the-wind-out-of-your-sail type of play, but we still got a chance to move the ball 20 yards. We should be able to do that, and we didn't do it.
"To their credit, they made the plays to win the game," Campo said.
The matchup between the Titans and Demons featured a series of adjustments for both teams.
After a sloppy first half when Berea-Midpark was clinging to a 7-2 lead, Westlake dominated the third quarter. The Demons scored twice on both of their possessions, while the Titans managed just six plays in the whole quarter.
Westlake opened the second half with an 80-yard scoring drive which took up almost half the quarter. The Demons followed it up with another JaQuan Hardy touchdown, his second 1-yard score of the period.
After Westlake quarterback Kent Axcell had thrown the ball 18 times, it was all Hardy in the third quarter. Hardy recorded 35 carries for 150 yards, 141 coming in the second half. The Demons were more dominant up front and opened up a 15-7 lead by the start of the fourth quarter.
"We were more physical than them in the third quarter. and they were more physical than us in the other three," Campo said. "You can't win playing that kind of football.
"We made a couple of adjustments and we talked about controlling the line of scrimmage and getting on people. We came out in those two drives and we did that, butthen in the fourth quarter we didn't," he said.
Berea-Midpark's fortunes quickly turned when the Titans found their offense and marched 75 yards to tie the game at 15-15. The Titans used 5:30 off the clock and ran 12 plays, capped off by Joey Bachie's 2-yard touchdown run.
A 2-point conversion pass from quarterback Dan States to Bachie essentially sent the game to overtime.
Harris finished with 19 rushes for a game-high 203 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown run on Berea-Midpark's fourth play of the game. Axcell was 6-for-18 for 76 yards.
After Harris' touchdown in overtime, Westlake took over possession on the 20-yard line. The Demons ran for four yards in three plays before the Titans defense forced an Axcell incompletion on a 4th-and-6.
"Our defense got stops and stood up in that overtime period," Hradek said. "That was awesome, so they did a good job. I think we're in good shape with good conditioning and all that kind of stuff, so we'll go from there."
The Titans made up for a rough first half, which featured seven total penalties. Berea-Midpark had a series of holding calls and unsportsmanlike fouls that prevented it from sustaining any offensive drives.
The Titans host 7-1 Brecksville next Friday, while Westlake hosts 1-7 Amherst.
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