LAKEWOOD, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats and the St. Edward Eagles faced off for the 61st time in program history. The Wildcats vs. Eagles rivalry is storied and filled with many classic games. Entering Saturday's matchup, the Wildcats had the all-time advantage between the two schools with a record of 32-27-1. However, this time the highly-ranked Eagles came away, beating the red hot Wildcats by a final score of 19-14.
St. Edward won the toss and elected to differ, so the Wildcats began the game on offense. The Cats would quickly punt on a three and out. After the punt, the Eagles' offense looked strong as they drove down the field. Then, Christan Ramos' pass was intercepted by senior Jack Mangan at the 13-yard line. Mangan's pick was his third on the season, which leads the team.
The next drive for the Wildcats was an improvement, junior Pierce Spencer and the offense were able to pick up a couple of first downs thanks to a first down run by Marty Lenehan and a catch by Colin Vollmer before being forced to punt once again. After the Zeb Eldridge punt, the Eagles took over on offense at their 31-yard line.
The run fueled the Eagles' drive until the Wildcat defensive front came up with a huge stop. On a fourth and one, the three defensive captains for the Wildcats: Peter Chalhoub, Tommy Wasinski, and Chris Aerni, combined to bring down Danny Enovitch behind the line of scrimmage for a turnover-on-downs.
A momentum-swinging 25-yard run from Lenehan highlighted the next drive for Cats to bring the offense down into the red zone for the first time in the game. However, the offense stalled out and forced the field goal team to come onto the field. Eldridge's 25-yard attempt was no good and gave the Eagles the ball.
The offensive possession for the Eagles was short; the Wildcat defense was able to bring up a fourth and one before a false start call forced Saint Edward to punt. The Eagles caught a break as the punt was short and hit Joe Norris on the way down. The Eagles picked up the ball and got the ball back with excellent field position at the Wildcat 39-yard line.
Then, Ramos tossed a perfect back-shoulder 36-yard touchdown to Rayshawn Manning on just the second play of the drive. The touchdown was the game's first points for either side and gave the Eagles a six-point lead. The following extra point was wide left and the score remained 6-0.
On the first play of the next drive for the Wildcats, Spencer's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell into the hands of Jack Riley, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown and a failed two-point conversation extended the Saint Edward lead 12-0.
The Wildcats would pick up a first down on their next possession thanks to a wheel-route completion to Lenehan that went for 12-yards. However, that was all the offense could do as they were again forced to punt. Eldridge did not have enough time to get the ball away and it was tipped in the air. The ball continued to fly forward and run down the field to the Wildcat 42-yard line.
The Wildcats were quick to strike back as senior Griffin Taliak intercepted Ramos at the 18-yard line. It was the second and final time the Cats intercepted Ramos. Then, even with the ball back and some momentum, the Wildcat offense could not move the ball. However, the Cats did catch a break as the Eagles were called for a personal foul after running into Eldridge on the punt.
The penalty gave the Wildcat offense a second chance and they capitalized. On the very first play of the drive, Spencer threw a check-down to Max Muresan, a star on Coach Chuck Kyle's '69 Track and Field team, who ran it 69-yards for the Cats' first touchdown of the game.
Ramos' legs drove the ensuing drive for the Eagles; he exploded for a 49-yard run to bring the Eagles to the Wildcat 30-yard line. A couple of plays later, Ramos threw what looked like a 30-yard touchdown pass, but it was called back because Ramos had already passed the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball. The penalty made it fourth and sixteen and forced the Eagles to punt. Upon receiving the punt and taking over on offense, the Wildcats took a couple of knees and ran out the remaining clock to bring the first half to a close. The score heading into the half was 12-7, with the Eagles leading the Wildcats.
The third quarter saw a lot of strong defensive play as neither offense could get it going. St. Edward received the opening kickoff in the second half and their first drive was halted thanks to a big fourth-down tackle by Aerni. The Wildcats tried their hand with a trick play following the stop, putting Patrick Tompkins at quarterback. The bold move did not work for the Cats and Eldridge pinned the Eagles deep inside their territory at the four-yard line. Several plays later, with rain beginning to fall, Ramos fumbled and recovered the snap. The near turnover brought up a third and 16, where Taliak tipped the ball away with excellent coverage.
The Saint Ignatius offense came back out onto the field with Tompkins still as the signal-caller. A couple of plays into the drive, Tompkins had an unbelievable cross-body throw to Steven Bodamer, who caught it at the four-yard line. The play was called back due to a holding penalty. The flag caused the offense to settle for a field goal which Eldridge missed to the right of the goalpost.
Then on the next drive, the Eagles were able to pick up one first down before a holding penalty set them well behind the chains. The Eagle offense eventually punted after failing to get the first down. The next drive for the Cats was snuffed out by the Eagles' defensive line, as they tackled Tompkins for a loss on a fourth and three.
Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Enovitch ran for a 29-yard pickup, which set up a Ramos touchdown pass into the hands of Jackson Miller. Ramos' second touchdown pass of the game and the following extra point made it 19-7. After getting the ball back, Tompkins and the Wildcat offense continued to struggle as Tompkins' pass was tipped and intercepted on a diving effort by Jeremiah Ratcliff. Following the interception, the Eagle drive was stopped again on fourth down. This time, Ramos threw an incomplete pass, well over the head of Miller with Taliak in coverage for a turnover on downs.
The next drive for Wildcats featured almost entirely run plays. Lenehan and Charlie Dunstan carried the offense down the field, who used his speed out of the backfield to pick up 18 yards on just two carries. Then, on fourth and nine from the Eagle 18-yard line, Tompkins, back at wide receiver, was grabbed in the endzone, resulting in a pass interference penalty. The penalty brought the Wildcats half the distance to the goal line to the nine-yard line. The next play, another Lenehan run, failed to pick up the first down at the four-yard line, which resulted in a turnover-on-downs.
The Eagles would then take over and run the ball to burn time off the clock. The Wildcat defense would eventually force a fourth and four. The Eagles chose to punt and the punt was blocked by AJ Spellacy and recovered and returned for a touchdown by Norris. The special team's touchdown and Eldridge's extra point made it a 14-19 game with the last hope for the Cats to be an onside kick with 28 seconds left.
The Wildcats nearly recovered Eldridge's onside attempt but ultimately ended up in the hands of the Eagles, who proceeded to take a knee and close out the game. The final score was 14-19 with the Eagles on top of the Wildcats.
Spencer was 6-of-11 for 100 yards with a touchdown. Lenehan rushed 19 times for 87 yards and, with no touchdown, broke his streak of six consecutive games with a score. Muresan had two receptions for 73 yards, including the 69-yard touchdown. Mangan and Taliak each had an interception. Franklin Pike also had one sack for a loss of four yards.
With the loss, the Wildcats go to 4-3 on the season and the Eagles remain perfect with a record now of 7-0. Saturday's game was filled with many mistakes by the Wildcats; many of them cost them big time in the fourth quarter. However, coming into the game, the Wildcats were considerable underdogs to the Eagles and gave the number two ranked team in Ohio all they could handle.
The Football Cats will have an opportunity to clean up those mistakes next week, as it's "on to Cincinnati" to take on the number nine ranked team Archbishop Moeller Crusaders on the road at Norwood Shea Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.