McCarthy Helped Lead Mooney Over Bellaire

It wasn't supposed to be so easy but it wasn't a big surprise when Cardinal Mooney scored early and often en route to a 49-7 win over Bellaire in the semifinal round of the state tournament. All four of Mooney's top junior prospects, remarkably, were involved in putting points on the board for the heavily favored Cardinals who now advance to the state title game for the third consecutive year.

With the aid of two turnovers returned for touchdowns in the first six minutes of the Division IV State Semifinal contest between Cardinal Mooney and Bellaire, the Cardinals got off to a 14-0 start en route to a 49-7 rout at Harding Stadium in Steubenville.

The first turnover came off of a fumble by a Bellaire wide out that was returned 56 yards for a touchdown by Brandon Beachum.

Brandon Beachum

And just two plays later, Taylor Hill picked off a shovel pass from Big Red quarterback Nick Rocchio and returned it 34 yards to put Mooney up 14-0 with 6:44 on the scoreboard in the first quarter.

Taylor Hill

Mooney added to their total when Michael Zordich, who was also credited with the strip of the Bellaire receiver on the first touchdown, raced five yards to the left corner of the endzone to put Mooney up 21-0 with 9:58 left in the second period. Zordich's touchdown run was set up by a punt block by Hill who created havoc for the Bellaire offense throughout the game.

Michael Zordich and Beachum at linebacker.

A 52-yard touchdown sprint by unheralded senior running back Jamelle Bowers capped the first-half scoring for the Cardinals and gave Mooney, the state's top ranked team in Division IV by the AP at the end of the regular season, a 28-0 lead at the intermission.

"We had a great week of preparation. Our defense really stepped up tonight and made some great plays," Danny McCarthy said. "I never expected to win like this. They're a great team but we really stepped up to the challenge and did a good job."

McCarthy, who already has a scholarship offer from Ohio State, contributed to the scoring onslaught with a 66-yard touchdown run in the third period to put Mooney up 35-7 with 5:43 left in the quarter.

"My receiver had a great block on the play,"said McCarthy who raced down the left sideline untouched for the score. "I was just fortunate enough to get outside and get around him."

And later in the period, Zordich contributed a defensive touchdown of his own when he stepped in front of Rocchio pass and rumbled 50 yards for a score that put Mooney up 42-7 with 3:43 left in the third stanza.

In all, it was an incredible display by Mooney's talented quartet of junior players who are just four of the reasons why the Cardinals are heavy favorites in the Division IV final contest against Jonathan Alder on Friday at 11 a.m. at Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

"This gives us momentum going into the state championship game which has been our goal since day one," said McCarthy whose team defeated Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, 28-0, in the first round and Twinsburg 41-0 in the second round. "We've just taken it step by step and this is the final step of our season."

McCarthy along with Zordich and Beachum attended the Ohio State-Michigan game the day after their lopsided victory over Orrville in the regional finals, 50-21, the week before the Bellaire game.

"It was a great experience," McCarthy said. "The atmosphere was unbelievable."

Like Ohio State win's put them in position to play for the national championship, Mooney's win over Bellaire puts the Cardinals, under head coach P.J. Fecko, back into the state title game for the third season in-a-row. Mooney beat Versailles, 28-6, in the 2004 championship with McCarthy's older brother Kyle under center while the Cardinals were convincingly defeated in the state title game last year by Coldwater, 33-9.

"I can't wait. We've got one more," McCarthy said. "We've got to get that ring."

Hill played terrific in front of the Ohio State coaches that were in attendance.

Luke Fickell (far left) and Jim Heacock (immediate right) attended the game in Steubenville.

Fickell caught up with former OSU teammate Joey Galloway, a Bellaire graduate.

Zordich, pictured with his younger brother Alex - a freshman and future star at Mooney, showcased his versatility as a talented two-way performer at linebacker and fullback.

As did Beachum at linebacker and running back.

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