Great season ends for Lions
- Speed kills! That some 40- year old safety slogan from the old Ohio Department of Highways describes what happened to Liberty Union Thurston's state championship hopes Saturday night.
Top ranked and undefeated Youngstown Ursuline wore down the gritty Lions with their speed and depth, on both sides of the ball. Two Irish running backs ran for more than one hundred yards each, using exceptional speed and agility to escape the Lions tenacious defense.
Liberty Union threatened first, moving down the field on a 15-yard Andy Mix to James Weaver pass, a 16-yard Dustin Love run and a 15- yard penalty against the Irish. The Lions opted to go for the first down on a 4th-and-2 at the Irish 10-yard line. The Irish defense held and the first quarter ended with no score. Youngstown scored twice in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead at half-time.
The Irish scored twice in the third quarter for a 28-0 lead. A Dustin Love punt return deep into Irish territory followed by three straight Love runs broke the Irish's shut out bid with 6:06 left in the game. Youngstown blocked the PAT attempt to hold the score at 28-6. Ursuline scored one more time to make it 35-6.
Youngstown has been on a mission this year to avenge their loss in state championship final last year to Maria Stein Marion Local. Going into the state semifinal with Liberty Union, the Irish had out scored their opponents 457-119. Youngstown will face No. 3 ranked and undefeated Findlay Liberty Benton Saturday in Massillon. Liberty Benton defeated Maria Stein in the semi-final. For the Lions, it was the school's best ever football season. The Lions were Mid State League co-champs, then won three playoff games for their first ever regional championship. They beat Columbus Bishop Ready for the regional championship. Last year, Ready lost to Ursuline 28-6 in the state semi-final.
Hundreds of fans made the 100+ mile trip to New Philadelphia to cheer on the Lions. Liberty Union fans outnumbered Youngstown's, completely filling the visitor stands. Liberty Union's superior-rated Marching Lions put on a great halftime show and the pep band contingent keep spirits high.