Ilion – Central Valley Academy and Mexico ended Friday’s Class B East football game with identical 3-1 records. For the two hours they played each other, they were anything but even.
The Tigers scored on their opening possession, recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and marched from there for a second score and never looked back in a 31-0 victory.
“I knew they were the best team in the league,” CVA coach Jon Cole said after his team lost for the first time in 2016 after opening with three straight impressive victories.
Long a doormat in Section III football, Mexico is now a power and headed to the playoffs for a third straight year. Dante Turo’s play at quarterback and line play on both sides helped the visitors take charge from the start of the September 23 contest.
“We never want them to put up a number,” Mexico lineman Mike Ladd said afterward of all his team’s foes. “We want them to put up zeroes.”
After Mexico scored twice in the first quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Turo to Kyle Pettit and a 1-yard Turo run, CVA battled back. The Thunder started from its 28 and reached the Mexico 2-year line. A 26-yard pass from Josh Klosner to Josh Panko gave the drive a boost to start and Klosner found Noah Lynch for a 13-yard gain to reach the Tigers’ 37. Gunar Holmberg’s tough running in the middle helped get the hosts inside the 10 but the drive stalled. Jace Eastman then gave Mexico some breathing room with a 25-yard run.
The teams didn’t do much on offense the rest of the half then sputtered to start the third quarter. The hosts failed to get a first down but got the back when Turo was intercepted by Adam Klosner. A good play on defense by Isaiah Turo on the next series helped coach Tee Murabito’s team get the ball back and Dante Turo’s passing made it pay off with an 81-yard scoring drive that took just three minutes. The rangy southpaw completed three long passes, the last for 27 yards and a score by Reed Fravor with 4:55 to go in the quarter.
Ladd, Zachary Foster, Derek McCarthy and Brandon Gracey bottled up CVA’s line on the next series and the offense followed with another scoring drive to all but seal the win. Dante Turo scored on a short run to make it 25-0 with 1:22 to play in the third quarter.
“I was a little disappointed they beat us off the line as bad as they did,” Cole said. “Give them credit. They had a great game plan.”
Mexico capped its scoring late in the game. Ladd was switched to fullback and gained 67 of his team’s yards in a 77-yard drive, the last 20 being a TD run that showcased how strong the 6-foot, 230-pound senior is.
“We really want to kick some butt,” Ladd said. “We want state playoffs.”
If Mexico keeps playing like it did Friday – especially is Dante Turo can match his 13–for-19, 203-yard effort – there’s a chance. As for CVA, Cole wants to see how his team responds.
“The big question is how we come back from this,” the veteran CVA coach said.
Mexico 13 0 12 6 – 31
CVA 0 0 0 0 – 0
M: Dante Turo 7 pass to Kyle Pettit (Jace Eastman kick)
M: D. Turo 1 run (kick failed)
M: D. Turo 27 pass to Reed Fravor (kick failed)
M: D. Turo 3 run (kick failed)
M: Mike Ladd 20 run (kick failed)
Records: Mexico 3-1, CVA 3-1.