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Saint Ignatius beats Mentor 26-20 in 3OT classic at FirstEnergy Stadium

In the opening game of head coach Chuck Kyle's 40th and final season, junior Sean Martin scored three touchdowns and even had a big interception on defense.

CLEVELAND — Chuck Kyle has grown used to these big games, and he's also grown used to them going down to (or beyond) the final minutes.

In the opening game of the legendary head coach's 40th and final season, Saint Ignatius got things going on the right foot with a 26-20 triple-overtime victory over Mentor at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. It was a rematch of last year's first-round playoff matchup, and marked the Wildcats' second straight win in what has become one of Northeast Ohio's best high school football rivalries.

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The hero of this game was junior running and defensive back Sean Martin, who tallied 114 scrimmage yards and three total touchdowns while also adding an interception on defense. His first score, a 19-yard grab on a screen pass from Josh Papesh, gave Iggy (1-0) a 7-0 lead that would later extend to 14-0 when Papesh hit Jonathan Merimee from 42 yards out.

Mentor (1-1) cut the deficit to 14-7 at halftime, and in the third quarter took advantage of a Papesh interception when Scotty Fox hit Henry Schenk for a four-yard TD to tie it up. Early in the fourth, Fox threw another one to Jordan Stapleton from 20 yards away, and the Cardinals clung to a 20-14 lead after the extra point went wide.

Fox and the Mentor offense had a chance to run out the clock late, but with 3:28 to go, Martin picked off a pass and gave the Wildcats good field position, and would later finish the drive off with a 10-yard touchdown. The subsequent PAT try was blocked, and though Ignatius would get the ball back with 22 seconds left, Papesh's completed Hail Mary to Ryan Kennedy was two yards short of the end zone, forcing overtime tied at 20.

Both teams traded turnovers, fourth-down stops, and missed field goals in the first two extra periods before Mentor faced a third-and-23 in the third, forcing a bad throw by Fox that ended with another interception. On the Wildcats' first offensive play, Martin scampered 20 yards to paydirt to end what might have been the 21st century iteration of the "Marathon by the Lake."

Despite just having one win as opposed to two, Saint Ignatius shot to the top of the Division I Region 1 rankings, according to Joe Eitel's early projections. The Wildcats' initial Week 1 opener against Springfield was canceled due to thunderstorms.

Iggy will head to Maryland to face Mount St. Joseph next Saturday, while Mentor will head back to Lake County to host Painesville Riverside.

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