It was #1 v.s #2, and by the end, everyone would be hoping for an Act II.
We should all be so lucky
In a battle of the the top two teams in the state of Ohio, it was #2 St. Edward that rallied from a 13-6 fourth quarter deficit to defeat #1 St. Ignatius 20-13 in front of over 13,000 fans at Byars Field last night. Quarterback Ryan Fallon directed two Eagles touchdown drives in the final six minutes, and St. Edward took advantage of a Wildcats special team miscue to pull out the victory, to set the stage for a possible playoff rematch in three weeks.
What was at stake?…. It was a meeting of the top two teams in the state of Ohio. It was playing for the top seed in the Division 1 Region 1 playoffs. St. Ignatius was trying to give legendary coach Chuck Kyle his 300th career victory. It was St. Edward finally earning the respect and attention of high school football fans not only in the Cleveland area, but statewide. Most importantly, it was Cleveland’s own “Holy War” with neighborhood bragging rights at stake.
Teams play on even terms in the first half…. As expected, the game was played on even terms throughout the first half. St. Ignatius took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter on a 36 yard field goal by Matt Colella. After St. Edward’s kicker Taylor Marsillo tied the game with a 23 yard field goal of his own, St. Ignatius scored the game’s first touchdown. The Wildcats drove 80 yards in nine plays with Conor Hennessey hauling in a 13 yard pass from quarterback Mike LaManna. The Eagles would get a 28 yard field goal from Marsilo to cut the deficit to 10-6 heading into the half.
Wildcats strike first in second half…. The Wildcats provided the only scoring of the third quarter. Using the hard running of senior running back Tim McVey (191 yards on 32 carries) the Wildcats drove deep into Eagles territory, but had to settle for a 29 yard field goal from Colella, and took a 13-6 lead into the the final quarter.
St. Edward pulls out the bag of tricks…. Starting with the ball deep in their own territory, the Eagles put a nice drive together that reached the Wildcats 34 yard line. The Eagles then used a play that they hadn’t run all year. Fallon handed the ball off to running back Dwayne Aaron, who pitched it back to Fallon, who found state 200 meter champion Anthony Young behind the Wildcat defense in the back of the endzone tying the game at 13. Fallon described the “flea-flicker” play:
“Its something that we had in the playbook all season but never used until tonight. We felt it would work if we could get them to bite, and you know with Anthony’s speed he was going to get open deep”
Crucial special teams mistake seals Wildcats fate…. After being stopped at their own 42 yard line their next possession, the Wildcats were forced to punt. Taking advantage of a low snap, the Eagles Connor King burst through the middle and blocked the punt. The Eagles Kenny Butler recovered the ball at the Ignatius 20 yard line, giving the Eagles prime field position, and setting up Fallon and the offense for the winning score. Facing a third and goal from the Ignatius 4 yard line, Fallon dropped to throw and found sophomore David Dowell in the back of the endzone, giving the Eagles a 20-13 lead.
St. Ignatius wouldn’t go away…. In true St. Ignatius fashion, the Wildcats wouldn’t quit. Driving the ball from deep in their own territory, Ignatius found themselves at the Eagles 13 yard line with a chance to tie the game. The Eagles defense had other ideas. Defensive end Ryan Davis sacked quarterback LaManna, and the Wildcats fourth pass from the Eagles 19 yard line fell incomplete.
What a game. It was a game between two teams that excel on the field, put off of it as well. Both teams will begin their push for a state championship next week as they both will host first round playoff games. St. Edward will play host to Mayfield, and St. Ignatius will play host to Austintown Fitch. Three weeks from last night, these two teams could meet again in the Division 1 Region 1 final, with a trip to the state final four at stake.
We should all be so lucky.