Wildcats Win "Battle of the Saints"
St. Ignatius defeated St. Edward 17-10 tonight at First Federal Lakewood Stadium in front of an overflow crowd. The annual rivalry game – newly dubbed “The Battle of the Saints” – was played on a very cold but dry night. Three first half Eagle turnovers put St. Edward into a 10-0 hole, and they were never able to fully climb out of it. Both teams will host OHSAA playoff games next week, and are widely expected to meet again during the playoffs.
The first turnover occurred early in the game on special teams. St. Ignatius was forced to punt on its first possession from its own 38 yard line. The returner misplayed the ball, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by the Wildcats at the St. Edward 8 yard line. Two plays later junior Jahadge Floyd scored on a six yard touchdown run. The extra point by senior kicker Matthew Trickett made the score 7-0 St. Ignatius with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. St. Edward responded with a nice offensive drive, which included a leaping 38 yard catch by senior Damerisse Freeman from quarterback Zach Kincaid. The drive stalled in Wildcat territory, forcing a punt back to St. Ignatius.
Pinned back at their own five yard line, the Wildcats went on an impressive 17 play drive deep into Eagle territory. St. Ignatius had a first and goal from the St. Edward four yard line, and was in position to take command of the game early in the second quarter. The Eagle defense rose to the occasion, forcing a 24 yard field goal from Trickett. St. Ignatius led 10-0 with 9:24 left in the second quarter. The Eagle offense responded with a quality drive, using a balanced mix of 14 running and passing plays to reach the Wildcat 25 yard line. The turnover bug then struck again, as Garrett Dzuro’s pass was intercepted by the Wildcats to thwart the drive. Three plays later St. Edward defensive back Richard White intercepted a St. Ignatius pass to return the ball to the Eagles at the Wildcat 37 yard line. Wildcat Daniel Scelza then picked off Dzuro again with 1:24 remaining until halftime, ending a furious flurry of defensie action and keeping the score 10-0 at intermission.
The Eagle defense was very strong in the third quarter, forcing the Wildcats into “three and outs” on their first two possessions. The defenses battled back and forth. St. Ignatius recovered a fumble on the Eagles second offensive drive. Then White grabbed another interception for the Eagles, thwarting a potential St. Ignatius scoring drive. The game stayed 10-0 through the third quarter.
The Eagles got their first score ten seconds into the fourth quarter, when kicker Blaine Stencil made a 32 yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-3. St. Edward head coach Tom Lombardo then reached into his bag of tricks, calling for an onside kick. It was perfectly executed by the Eagles, with junior Daylan Jernigan recovering the ball at the 50 yard line. St. Edward seized momentum, and eight plays later Tylan Rice scored a four yard touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. Stencil’s extra point tied the game at 10-10. Neither team was able to score on its next possession, and with under three minutes remaining the game seemed likely to go to overtime. Then Wildcat quarterback Daniel Alexander completed a 42 yard pass to Nigel Drummond II at the Eagle five yard line. Alexander scored two plays later on a two yard touchdown run, putting the Wildcats ahead 17-10 with only 1:13 left on the clock. St. Edward’s final drive stalled, resulting in a 17-10 Wildcat win.
The Eagles were disappointed in the loss, but Lombardo told his players to focus on the playoffs ahead. “Week Eleven is what matters” he told them, referring to next week’s home playoff game. The Eagles (9-1 on the season) will host Stow (9-1) Friday night at First Federal Lakewood Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1