OHIO CITY, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Football Wildcats had a Friday they would like to forget when the Vikings of Pittsburgh Central Catholic (PA) came to town. A team with FBS power five conference talent all over the board flexed their muscles in front of a rowdy crowd on the campus of Saint Ignatius.
It didn’t take long for the Vikings to get rolling, as junior running back Elijah Faulkner got to the second level and picked up 23 yards on the game’s third play. A small gain and a pass breakup by Max Woidke forced third down, but the ball was put in Faulkner’s hands, and he would not be stopped, going 34 yards to the house. The Vikings converted their two-point conversion as well, making the score 8-0 only 1:11 into the game.
Things went from bad to worse when the opening Wildcat snap was wide, and quarterback Josh Papesh had to chase it down back at the eight-yard line for a loss of twelve. Two short gains and a punt followed, and the Vikings took back over.
The Wildcat defense stepped up, though, as Woidke got his second PBU of the quarter and on third down, Ference dropped quarterback Payton Wehner for a sack, forcing the punt squad out.
On second down of the next Wildcat drive, Papesh extended the play, rolled right and connected with a wide-open Luke Simms down the field for 47 yards. From there, The Wildcats could not get any closer, although on third down and 14, Papesh did well to hit his checkdown and Sean Martin accelerated to make kicker Tommy Kilbane’s life easier, giving him a 22-yard chip shot, which he drilled.
The Wildcat momentum didn’t last too long, however, as on the first play, Wehner loaded up down the field for Penn State commit wide receiver Pete Gonzalez and he made a spectacular one-handed catch and made his way down to the Saint Ignatius nine for 63 yards.
Exuberating a bend, don’t break mentality. However, aided by touchdown-wiping penalties, the Wildcats held firm and forced a third-down incompletion, which forced kicker Billy Lech out, where he converted his 31-yard field goal attempt, making the score a bizarre 11-3.
Papesh kept the ball moving through the air, completing three straight passes, one to Grant Washington and one to Charlie Young and he hit AJ Haddox who made an exceptional catch to put the Cats on the Viking 29. The teams traded penalties, which eventually led to a third and nine where a pass would go off the hands of Young and Kilbane was out. His 45-yard attempt had plenty of leg, but he pushed it wide right.
The start of the second quarter was when things truly started to spiral downward, but things looked up when the defense forced the punt team out. However, Danny Raffin muffed the punt, which Jacob Sassic of the Vikings recovered. PCC converted a fourth down with Faulkner and the play after, Wehner threw it up to Gonzalez, who caught it in the endzone for another touchdown. Central Catholic once again converted the two-point conversion.
First-year Viking head coach Ryan Lehmier reached into his bag of tricks, calling an onside kick, which the Vikings recovered. The visiting side ran right through the gassed Wildcat defense with a drive that ended with a Vernon Settles 16-yard touchdown, capping off a 47-yard, 44-second drive.
As it had been all game, the run game was stifled, primarily thanks to the trio of Cole Sullivan, Michigan commit at linebacker, Anthony Speca, Penn State commit at linebacker and Ty Yuhas, Pittsburgh commit at defensive line. Three straight short gains forced another punt.
Once again, the Pennsylvania powerhouse scooted their way down the field, averaging over five yards per play, and freshman Sa’Nir Brooks put the exclamation point on the drive with a 27-yard touchdown scamper.
Quinn Woidke came in as signal caller and led the team down the field, moving the sticks with passes to Simms and Jordon Rodman. Woidke went down on third down, forcing Papesh to take the fourth down snap, where he threw an incompletion.
The Cats got a stop, forcing Paul Koupiaris to punt. Papesh was able to get some momentum going, connecting with Simms up the sideline for 37 yards, and that was enough for Kilbane to get into field goal range and knock in his second field goal to end the half.
The second half was played under a running clock after Wehner ran in a three-yard touchdown with nine minutes left in the quarter. The Wildcats did have their biggest play of the season so far when Papesh hit Jordon Rodman, who went from the Saint Ignatius 20 to the Viking 14 for 66 yards. The drive stalled from there, and an incomplete fourth-down pass kept the score the same.
Wehner kept firing, hitting Sassic for an 82-yard touchdown, which gave us the final score of 47-6. Neither team did anything the rest of the third quarter and with the running clock, when Central Catholic got the ball with 11:15 left in the fourth, they would drain the clock from there.
Papesh would finish 9-of-21 and throw for 237 yards and Luke Simms was the Wildcat leading receiver with 104 yards on five catches. Woikde was the leading rusher for the Cats, gaining 18 yards on four carries.
The Wildcats will look to put week three behind them as they prepare to travel to Austintown to take on the Fitch Falcons on Friday at 7 p.m. from Greenwood Chevrolet Austintown Falcon Stadium.