Monroeville coach Scott Stecher fully admitted the rivalry with St. Paul isn’t much of one when one team wins all the time.
That all changed on Saturday in shocking fashion.
In a matchup of 2-7 versus 8-1 teams, it was the Eagles rising up for a stunning 13-0 win over the host Flyers at Whitney Field in Norwalk. The game was scoreless on a rainy night and a muddy field with under five minutes left in the third quarter.
However, Monroeville scored twice in 10 minutes and never let St. Paul get untracked on offense — including limiting the Flyers to just three offensive snaps for a 17:13 stretch of the 24 minutes in the second half.
It’s Monroeville’s first win over the Flyers since 2010, which snapped a 10-game losing streak that included a pair of Division VII playoff games. It’s just the fifth win over the past 20 seasons, and the program’s first win in the series on the road since 1991.
It’s the first home shutout loss in FC play for St. Paul since a 26-0 loss to Black River on Sept. 25, 1992.
The Eagles (3-7) finished 2-5 in the Firelands Conference, while the Flyers (8-2, 5-2) will host a first-round Region 26 playoff game vs. Edon (7-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I didn’t realize it until the clock hit zero, because you remember who you’re facing,” Stecher said of when he realized his team was going to pull the upset. “I knew it was going to be one of those mud games, and so much credit to Coach (John) Livengood and the St. Paul program. But tonight, we just had to be better than them for one night. Just one night … and we were.”
Neither team advanced inside the other team’s 30-yard line in the first half. The Eagles threw two interceptions, while the Flyers fumbled once. The best scoring opportunity came when a mishandled snap on a punt attempt gave the Flyers the ball at the Monroeville 38 with 2:21 left in the first half.
St. Paul picked up six yards to the 32, but then lost all six yards on a sack, and penalty pushed them further back and it ended with a turnover on downs.
The Flyers forced a three-and-out on defense to begin the second half, but fumbled the ensuing punt back to the Eagles at the St. Paul 45.
Monroeville then used up nearly six minutes, but were faced with a fourth-and-15 from the 25. However, quarterback Isaac Roeder threw to the end zone, where a streaking Anthony Dublo made the catch over two Flyer defenders for the game’s first points.
The Gunner Howell PAT put Monroeville up 7-0 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
“We just wanted to get it to the end zone,” Stecher said. “Dublo is a big body kid with good hands, and we told Roeder just throw it up and give him a chance. Everything worked out.”
Livengood cited the play as the game’s key turning point.
“Momentum was kind of going back and forth at that point, and neither team had really grabbed a hold of it,” Livengood said. “That really shifted it to them, and we were playing from behind.
“Then we came back with a three-and-out, and with the way they were possessing the ball … they were doing a good job with it — and we weren’t.”
Riding high from momentum, when the Eagles quickly got the ball back they put the game away.
Using a 13-play drive that included just two pass attempts and three third-down conversions, Monroeville marched 59 yards. It used up 7:59 of valuable clock in the process, as Ricky Ringer scored on a 6-yard run with 6:50 left.
The kick failed, but the double-digit lead at that point was a tall task for the Flyers on this night.
“Monroeville outplayed us, they outcoached us and they executed better than us tonight,” Livengood said. “They did all the things they needed to do to win the game, and I take full responsibility for that. We’ve got to play better.
“We didn’t play to our capabilities, but Monroeville played really well,” he added. “Something I talked to our kids about this week was that they were better than their record.”
The Flyers made one last-ditch effort to reach the end zone in the final two minutes. QB Myron Stoll completed 5-of-5 pass attempts, including 70 yards to Cam Caizzo that took the ball to the Monroeville 15.
But Stoll was sacked two plays later, and a 4-yard pass on 4th-and-4 was just short of the first down at the Monroeville 5 with under 30 seconds to go.
All told, Monroeville had the ball for more than 33 of the 48 minutes of the game — including all but 3:37 of the 24-minute second half.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage, we ran the ball well and caught a few passes,” Stecher said. “Special teams we also won. It was an all-around game for our kids, and I’m happy and thrilled for them.
Ringer ran 19 times for 75 yards and a TD to pace the Eagles, with Brayden Schuller adding 42 yards on 19 attempts. Roeder was 6-of-11 passing for 68 yards with a TD and two interceptions, and added 25 yards rushing.
Dublo caught three passes for 40 yards.
“Again, a 3-7 season is not great … but 3-7 and beating your arch rival is good,” he added. “It’s a good way to end. We just gutted it out and played power football.”
For St. Paul, which finished with four turnovers and seven penalties for 45 yards, Caizzo finished with eight carries for 37 yards and had the long catch. Stoll was 9-of-17 passing for 131 yards to six different receivers.
Aside from the 70-yard pass from Stoll-to-Caizzo, the Flyers had 90 net yards of offense.
“We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes with penalties and turnovers,” Livengood said. “We had a tough time getting off the field defensively. We only gave up 13 points, but we couldn’t get off the field.
“A lot of things affected the outcome, but the main thing was Monroeville’s kids played a great game.”
Livengood noted his team has the chance to erase a Week 10 loss — something only 32 teams in each division in Ohio get to do. The matchup with the Bombers on Saturday is the program’s 15th first-round home game in 21 years.
“Thats not how you want your regular season to finish, but we’re fortunate enough to be playing a playoff game here next week,” Livengood said. “We have to refocus, try to build some momentum and see if we can make a run.”
Monroeville 0 0 7 6 — 13
St. Paul 0 0 0 0 — 0
MON — Anthony Dublo 25 pass from Isaac Roeder (Gunner Howell kick)
MON — Ricky Ringer 6 run (kick failed)