LAKEWOOD, Ohio - Saturday afternoon First Federal Lakewood Stadium held an epic showdown in a cold, fall rainy weather slugfest. The Archbishop Moeller Crusaders (5-4) embarked on a grueling four-hour journey up I-71 to face off against arguably the best high school football team in Ohio, the St. Edward Eagles (8-1). The clash between these football powerhouses lived up to its billing, featuring standout performances, dramatic twists, and a display of sheer determination.
Sophomore Sensation Brandon White Has A Career Day
The day belonged to Eagles sophomore running back, Brandon White, who etched his name into the annals of high school football glory. White had a career day, showcasing a blend of speed and power as he rushed for an astonishing 239 yards and found the end zone twice. His electrifying performance was a testament to his potential and marked him as a star to watch in the future.
"Today, I gotta give credit to my line. They gave me big holes and let me do what I can do best. Since Week One, me and the line have been talking things out and playing as a team and it got us the result you seen today," White said postgame about his career performance.
White also dominated the pass game being on the receiving end of 68 of senior quarterback Casey Bullock's 93 total passing yards.
St. Edward's Dominant First Half
The St. Edward Eagles set the tone early in the game, with their defense asserting its dominance in the first half. They shut out the Crusaders, building an impressive 21-0 lead. Their defensive prowess was a sight to behold, as they consistently thwarted Moeller's offensive efforts, including forcing two interceptions on two of the first three pass attempts by Moeller sophmore quarterback Matt Ponatoski.
Marshall's Dominate Day Cut Short
On the other side of the field, Moeller's senior running back and University of Michigan 4-star recruit, Jordan Marshall, delivered a stellar first-half performance. Marshall, the undisputed #1 running back in the state of Ohio, dazzled fans with his skills, rushing for 111 yards on 18 carries and making a big time catch for 27 yards.
However, tragedy struck as Marshall suffered a scary injury, rolling his left ankle and being forced out of the game. Despite the setback, his early contributions showcased his immense talent, De'Von Achane like speed, and giving fans in attendance a glimpse to why he is the all-time leading rushing in Crusaders history.
Ponatoski and Love's Second-Half Heroics
With Marshall sidelined, Moeller needed a hero, and they found it in their sophomore quarterback. Ponatoski forged a remarkable connection with junior wide receiver Jovan Love. In the second half, the duo put on an aerial show, connecting for an astounding 8 catches, accumulating 197 yards, and scoring three pivotal touchdowns. Their chemistry breathed new life into the Crusaders' offense and kept the game within a reasonable chance to win.
St. Edward's defense, though challenged in the second half, managed to hold strong when it mattered most. Archbishop Moeller's resurgence put pressure on the Eagles, but they ultimately secured the win, showcasing their championship-caliber resilience.
"Gotta give Moeller credit today. They played their tails off. We played great football for about three and a half quarters, then kinda let our guard down at the end which we have to correct. " Eagles Head Coach Tom Lombardo said postgame.
The Road Ahead for the Eagles
After the dust settled on this thrilling contest, the St. Edward Eagles look forward to their final regular-season challenge. They'll hit the road to Akron to face the undefeated Archbishop Hoban Knights (8-0), a matchup that promises to be another high-stakes battle. With the Ohio high school football playoffs on the horizon, the Eagles are eager to fine-tune their game and make a run at defending their back-to-back division 1 state championship.
Soph. QB Matt Ponatoski: 15-36, 382 Yds, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
Sr. RB Jordan Marshall: 18 rushes, 111 Yds (1 catch, 27 Yds) 138 total yards
Jr. WR Jovan Love: 8 catches, 197 Yds, 3 TDs
Jr. DB Griff Daley: 2 tackles, 1 Interception
Sr. QB Casey Bullock: 6-13, 93 Yds, 1 TD, 1 INT (5 rushes, 54 Yds)
Soph. RB Brandon White: 35 rushes, 239 Yds, 2 TDs (5 catches, 68 Yds) 307 total yards
Sr. RB/LB Jon Slapper: 1 sack, 2 rushes, 6 Yds, 1 TD