By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2016
Jimmy Andrews' powerful and authoritative 7-yard touchdown run seals the Wildcats' sixth victory in seven games this season as Saint Ignatius wins the first of a demanding four-game stretch.
Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 will now prepare his Cats for next Friday's matchup with the Fighting Crusaders of Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller High School. The kickoff from Otterbein University's Memorial Stadium will be 7 PM. Archbishop Moeller sits at 3-4.
From there, Saint Ignatius will travel to Cincinnati St. Xavier for a 2 PM encounter with the Bombers on October 22, and will close its regular season on October 29 versus longtime West Side rival St. Edward at the Browns' FirstEnergy Stadium. The kickoff will be 6 PM.
At GlenOak Stadium on the impressive campus of GlenOak High School in Northeast Canton, Ohio: Saint Ignatius' tough and talented senior tailback Jimmy Andrews said the Golden Eagles of GlenOak knew that the Wildcats wanted to run the football during what was a Friday night headliner between two programs striving for a playoff spot in Division I, Region 1.
While that ground attack wasn't always available in the early going, Saint Ignatius stuck with its balanced game plan offensively and went on to eventually wear down the Golden Eagles of GlenOak, 34-17, on Bob Commings Field.
In what was the first encounter on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Golden Eagles, veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo watched his Cats strike first through the air, a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Patrick Ryan that hit junior wide receiver Connor Kennedy in stride with 8 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Gifted junior Matthew Trickett kicked the extra point in capping the six-play, 39-yard drive.
After GlenOak's Dean Sarris made it a 7-3 game by hitting on a 34-yard field goal, the 'Cats marched 68 yards in seven plays. Tough as nails junior tailback Mark Bobinski scored on a 4-yard run and Trickett's ensuing PAT pushed Saint Ignatius' lead to 14-3 with 8:05 left in the first half.
Refusing to fold, the Golden Eagles (now 4-3) responded with a 48-yard touchdown run by their standout tailback Elijah Ladson. Sarris' extra point cut the deficit to 14-10 with 5 minutes to go in the half. Ladson, who combines power with quick feet and exceptional vision, led all rushers with 115 yards on 22 carries.
The Wildcats, who had to overcome three turnovers, recaptured the momentum by scoring 10 points in the final 31 seconds of the first half - 17-yard run touchdown run by senior wide receiver Travis Pot, another extra point by Trickett and an 18-yard field goal by Trickett..
Pot's touchdown came off a reverse that saw Andrews take a handoff from Ryan, run to the right side and without hesitation hand the pigskin off to Travis, who came around from his spot at wide receiver and beat the pursuit into the left corner of the end zone.
Andrews said the touchdown off the reverse was the same scoring play that he, Wildcats All-Ohio quarterback Dennis Grosel '16 and All-Ohio wide receiver Jack Cook '16 pulled off in the St. Edward game at Lakewood Stadium on Halloween of last year.
Trickett's 18-yard field goal, which came with 2 seconds remaining in the first half and extended the 'Cats' lead to 24-10, was set up when GlenOak fumbled the kickoff following Pot's TD and senior linebacker Ben Delhees recovered the ball. The fumble was caused by a jarring hit from senior defensive lineman Michael Czaja, a key member of the kickoff team.
The second half saw Trickett's 43-yard field goal give Saint Ignatius a 17-point lead with 8:58 to go in the third quarter, only to see GlenOak make a game of it again courtesy of a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback J.J. Olivera to wide receiver Daiquan Johnson and another PAT by Sarris with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
Olivera's scoring toss saw him hand the ball off Ladson, who faked like he was running up the middle, turned and lateralled the ball back to Olivera.
Saint Ignatius would seal the deal, however, when Andrews swept right, cut inside, stood up a linebacker with a telling blow, bounced away and into the end zone with 5:11 remaining to be played.
"A lot of things weren't open to begin with," said Andrews of Saint Ignatius' ground game early on. "But in the second half, the O-Line was doing a great job, Mark (Bobinski) was doing a great job and things started to open up for us. I was getting in the end zone on that play," Jimmy said of his 7-yard TD clincher. "I was just trying to run him over and get a few more yards, but he ended up falling off and I got into the end zone.
"This wasn't the prettiest win, but we'll have an intense week of practice and be ready for Moeller," guaranteed Andrews, who is as classy a young man as you will find.
In summing up the keys to victory on Friday night under a fall moon in Northeast Ohio, you have to tip your cap to Wildcats senior running back Nicholas Kilbane, who consistently gave Saint Ignatius solid field position by returning four kickoffs for a total of 113 yards.
SOME OTHER NUMBERS TO CHEW ON: Bobinski rushed for 93 yards on 18 carries, Andrews carried the ball 16 times for 84 yards and senior wide receiver Mike Lehto totaled 93 yards on four receptions.
The Wildcats had 23 first downs to GlenOak's 10, outrushed the Golden Eagles, 197-132, and won the passing game, 164 yards to 136.
FROM COACH KYLE: "It was an important game for them," Coach Kyle said of the fire the Golden Eagles brought to Friday night's matchup. "Last week, they were disappointed (a 35-10 loss to Massillon Jackson) when Jackson jumped on them. We knew they were going to be a good running team and then the quarterback (Olivera) does a little double pass to a tall receiver.
"We've been running the ball pretty well.," Coach Kyle continued. "We just had to be patient with it, see what they were doing (defensively), make the adjustments and find the seams. Once we started finding the seams, we were fine. If you look at the special teams with Nick Kilbane, that was a big factor. We knew they were going to angle it (the kickoffs) and we returned it to like the 40-yard line, truly that was huge.
"But three turnovers, we can't be doing that."