AKRON, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Football Wildcats hit the road South to take on their Division II powerhouse rivals, the Archbishop Hoban Knights. Both teams came into the Friday evening bout undefeated, but Hoban gave Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle's side their first defeat of the 2022 campaign.
The Cats got the ball first in the match-up of the two Ohio High School heavyweights. As would become the theme throughout the night, the Wildcats went three and out and brought Junior James Collins on to punt.
The Knights rode their University of Buffalo commit running back Lamar Sperling throughout the game. This was imminent on the first drive as he got six carries and moved Hoban down the field. On third down and six, the Wildcats sent pressure and senior Max Palinski sacked quarterback Jacquai Long and Hoban punted.
Once again, Saint Ignatius was forced to kick and a good punt by Collins put Hoban on their own 17-yard line. On the drive's first play, Sperling took a pitch to the right and went 83 yards to the house to give the Knights the first lead with 42 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, quarterback Joshua Papesh connected with Jonathan Merimee for 10 yards, but the Knights' defense got a stop on third and short, and again Collins came out.
Ryan Burns, the Hoban punter, put on a clinic throughout in the special teams game, hitting four punts inside the 10-yard line.
Again Saint Ignatius had poor field position, but Sean Martin took off from his end zone to the 20-yard line to give the Cats some breathing room. Ultimately, a punt ensued again.
On the first play of their drive, Long connected with wide receiver Parker Falkenstein for a considerable gain. Hoban executed the two-minute drill to perfection and Sperling capped the drive and the half with a 10-yard run for his 16th touchdown in his fifth game of the year.
The Knights received the opening kickoff for the second half and escaped trouble when Long hit receiver Jayvian Crable for a gain across midfield. With the ball at the 24-yard line, the Wildcats were fooled by the play action, and freshman Payton Cook was wide open in the endzone to increase the lead to 21-0.
Senior Charlie Dunstan took the ensuing kickoff and, with some nifty moves, advanced the ball to the Hoban 24-yard line. On the very next play, Papesh rolled out and found Merimee over the middle to finally put the Wildcats on the board. The 24-yard connection gave Merimee his third touchdown of the season.
Momentum was building for the Cats as they were able to stop the Knights' offense via a Brandon Webster open field tackle on Sperling, but as the fourth quarter started, Burns unleashed a punt that was once again downed at the three-yard line.
Brady Haddad and Steve Favazzo picked up third-down conversions to keep the chains moving. On third and 17, Papesh connected with Webster, but he was short of the first down marker. Collins would punt again.
Once again, the defense stopped and Burns worked his magic again, putting the ball at the three. The Wildcats could not move the ball, the Collins punt was blocked and the Knights took over at the Wildcats' 30-yard line. On fourth down and inches, Sperling bounced to the outside and walked in from 21 yards out for his third score of the game.
The Sperling run proved to be the dagger, as the Cats once again did not move the ball, and for the final time, Collins punted. The Knights were able to run out the rest of the clock with Sperling, who finished with 232 yards on the ground, ending this contest and improving their record to 5-0.
The Wildcats fall to 3-1 on the season and will be back in action next week as they head north to Michigan to take on the River Rouge Panthers (MI). Kick-off from Panther stadium will be at 7 p.m. as the Wildcats look to bounce back in the win column.