Led by a multi-faceted effort from senior Jacob Mercier, the Hartley High School football team earned its fourth consecutive CCL-Gold Division championship with its fourth win in a row over Ready on Nov. 1 at Hilliard Bradley.
Mercier had five receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 33 yards and a pair of scores, including an 8-yard run in overtime, to give the Hawks a 21-14 victory.
Hartley improved to 9-1 and spoiled Ready’s bid for its first perfect regular season as the Silver Knights fell to 9-1.
“I was the one in open spaces, but (our blockers) were the ones that opened things up for me,” Mercier said. “We knew this was going to be a dogfight all the way.”
Hartley fell behind 14-7 when Ready quarterback Matt Yoho hit Hunter Clanin for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 9 minutes, 37 seconds to go in the third quarter, but the Hawks tied the game at 14 when Mercier scored on a 7-yard run with 14:54 remaining.
On its final possession in regulation, Ready moved from its own 24 to the Hartley 17, but Aiden Dulin missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt with 6.7 seconds left.
The Hawks scored on the third play of overtime on Mercier’s run.
On Ready’s overtime possession, Myles Fowler ran for 2 yards and Yoho threw an incompletion. Yoho then was intercepted by Shawn Smith-Davis to end the game.
Yoho completed just three of 14 passes for 68 yards. Ready running back Akili Taylor rushed 22 times for 94 yards.
“They’re a great team,” Hartley coach Brad Burchfield said. “We wanted to make Yoho throw. Akili is a big, strong, physical kid.”
The Hawks took a 7-0 lead on a 50-yard pass from quarterback Jared Brandewie to Mercier with 7:54 left in the opening quarter.
Hartley then attempted an onside kick, but Ready recovered the ball at its own 48 and scored 10 plays later on a 1-yard run by Nicholas Chapman with 2:53 to go in the first quarter.
Hartley's Alonzo Saxton rushed seven times for 69 yards and Brandewie contributed 37 yards rushing.
“Hats off to them because they executed better than we did in overtime,” Ready coach Joel Cutler said. “It was a great football game, one for the ages.”
H--Mercier 50 pass from Brandewie (Barringer kick)
R--Chapman 1 run (Dulin kick)
R--Clanin 37 pass from Yoho (Dulin kick)
H--Mercier 7 run (Barringer kick)
H--Mercier 8 run (Barringer kick)