Elizabeth Forward uses big-play offense to escape Mt. Pleasant with victory

Friday, October 16, 2020 | 10:40 PM

Friday’s first-place showdown in the WPIAL Class 3A Interstate Conference was decided by big plays.

No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (5-0, 4-0), led by senior Nico Mrvos, made a few more and escaped No. 5 Mt. Pleasant with a 16-14 victory.

Mrvos, who played quarterback and receiver, raced 70 yards for a score on the first play of the second quarter, tossed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Zach Boyd in the fourth quarter and iced the win with a 34-yard run for the Warriors, which played without starting quarterback/safety Evan Lewis, took over sole possession of first place in the conference.

Lewis injured his knee in last week’s double overtime win over South Allegheny and is out for the season. Freshman Vernon Settles and Mrvos shared the quarterback position.

“Nico is an amazing player,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike Collodi said. “Mt. Pleasant is a good football team and gave us a battle. It’s tough losing a player like Evan.”

Elizabeth Forward’s defense withstood a couple early threats from Mt. Pleasant (4-2, 4-1), which drove to the EF 5 on its first possession and the EF 20 on its second possession. It was Mrvos who stopped the second drive with an interception.

“We just made too many mistakes.” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said. “Despite three turnovers, a couple bad snaps and a couple penalties, we’re still in the game. I thought the defense played great and we gave great effort.”

The Warriors struck on the first play of the second quarter. Faced with a fourth-and-1, Collodi rolled the dice and went for it. Mrvos made his coach’s decision the right one as he rambled 70 yards for the score.

Elizabeth Forward was 3 for 3 on fourth downs but only 2 for 20 on third-down conversions.

“A lot of assistants weren’t happy I went for it,” Collodi said. “Good thing I’m the head coach.”

Elizabeth Forward took advantage of good punt return by Boyd to set up a 31-yard field goal by Andrew Smith to make it 10-0.

“It was pretty fun, but I couldn’t do it without my linemen,” Mrvos said. “The defense also stepped up. We lost my best friend (Lewis), and it meant I had to step up to the table.”

Mt. Pleasant got back into the game when Aaron Alakson raced 49 yard for a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter to make it 10-7.

“Our coaches during film study prepared us well,” Mrvos said. “We saw what their linebackers like to do and we hit it. On the long touchdown pass, I knew their defensive backs came up strong on the jet sweep.”

After Mt. Pleasant nearly recovered an onside kick at the EF 26, the Warriors struck again when Mrvos hooked up with Boyd to make it 16-7 with 10:43 left.

The Warriors were attempting to run out the clock, but Mt. Pleasant nose tackle Ian Fasano punched the ball loose from the hands of running back DaVontay Brownfield and Vikings safety Tyler Reese returned the fumble 89 yards for the score to make it 16-14 with 2:29 left.

Elizabeth Forward recovered the onside kick, and Mrvos iced the game with a 34-yard run.

Mrvos rushed for 141 yards on 14 carries. He completed 2 of 2 passes for 84 yards.

Mt. Pleasant can still make the playoffs, but it will need to defeat South Park next week.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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