Posted on 10/10/2015 at 9:54 a.m.

St. X Ends La Salle Streak, Moeller Wins Wild One At Pit

For the second straight Friday night, drama took center stage in the Greater Catholic League South Division football race.  A week after Elder topped St. Xavier on the road in double overtime and La Salle rallied to defeat Moeller in overtime on the Crusaders’ home field, it was the two teams on the short end of the last Friday that came up with big wins a seven days later.

St. Xavier fell behind 14-7 at halftime against La Salle before rallying to score 17 unanswered points in the second half of a 24-14 victory at St. Xavier Stadium, defeating the Lancers for the second consecutive year and ending La Salle’s 14-game winning streak.  The victory gives the Bombers a share of the GCL South championship pending the result of the Elder-La Salle game to be played the final week of the regular season.

Moeller, which was on the verge of losing three straight games for the first time in its storied gridiron history, was led by senior quarterback Thomas MacVittie – who completed 13-of-16 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushed for 112 yards and one score on seven carries to lead the Crusaders to a 49-42 win over Elder in a game that saw both teams combine to rack up 1,128 total yards at The Pit in Price Hill.

Much of the offense for Elder came was generated by senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey, the co-GCL Player of the Year last season and an Indiana University commit.  Ramsey connected on 27-of-45 passes for 407 yards and six TDs, four to senior receiver Nick Hall.  Ramsey also rushed 20 times for 130 yards for Elder, which amassed almost 600 yards of offense in the game.  Hall finished with 13 receptions for 198 yards.

St. Xavier, the last team to defeat La Salle (winning 24-21 on a last-second field goal on October 10, 2014), has now won five straight games over the Lancers dating back to 2010.  A 52-yard field goal by senior Nick Arcuri with 6:24 left in the third quarter gave the Bombers a 17-14 lead.  Then, a 17-yard TD run by junior quarterback Sean Clifford, his second rushing TD of the half, gave St. Xavier a 24-14 advantage.

The Bombers’ defense did the rest, holding La Salle’s offense scoreless in the final two quarters.  Led by 96 yards rushing and a TD from senior Jeremy Larkin, La Salle did manage 141 yards rushing against St. Xavier (5-2, 2-1 GCL South), which is ranked No. 3 in The Enquirer’s Division I weekly coaches poll and No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press DI state rankings.  The Bombers entered the game giving up fewer than 80 yards rushing per game.

La Salle (6-1, 1-1) is ranked No. 1 in The Enquirer’s DII coaches poll and No. 1 in the AP DII state poll.  The game was named one of the MaxPreps Top 10 Games of the Week in the United States.  St. Xavier finishes its regular season with three consecutive non-conference games on the road, while the Lancers are at home the next three weeks – including the GCL South finale against Elder on Friday, October 30.

Friday’s win by Moeller (3-4, 1-2) had to feel good for the Crusaders, who entered the game coming off two difficult league losses – 14-10 to St. Xavier two weeks ago in a game Moeller led 10-0 into the third quarter, and then a 13-7 setback in OT last week to La Salle, a game the Crusaders led 7-0 into the fourth quarter and were then stopped at the Lancers’ 1-yard line on their OT possession.

Elder (5-2, 1-1) entered the game ranked No. 2 in Greater Cincinnati behind only Colerain and No. 6 in the state.  The Panthers took a 14-0 lead on Ramsey’s first two TD passes, but Moeller rallied to tie the game late in the first quarter. The Crusaders then built a 35-21 lead in the third quarter and were able to stop a late Elder drive to emerge with their first GCL South victory of the season.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for No. 6 Moeller, which travels to Greater Columbus to face Cleveland St. Ignatius next Saturday before trekking to Northeast Ohio the following week to play Lakewood St. Edward, the state-s top-ranked team.  Elder – which lost at St. Edward, 31-20, earlier this season - travels to Winton Woods next Friday for a non-conference game.

Posted on 10/09/2015 at 7:44 a.m.

Elder-Moeller, La Salle-St. Xavier Highlight League Games

It will be virtually impossible for tonight’s two games in the Greater Catholic League South Division to have more drama than the league doubleheader last Friday, when Elder defeated St. Xavier, 24-17, in double overtime at St. Xavier, and La Salle extended its winning streak to 14 games with a 13-7 win over Moeller in overtime at Lockland Stadium.  Both dramatic finishes came on the first full night of play in the GCL South this season.

That said, the pair of games tonight also have plenty of story lines.  Elder hosts Moeller at 7 at The Pit in Price Hill, as the Panthers attempt to take another step toward the coveted GCL South championship while Moeller tries to avoid losing three straight games for the first time in school history.  And La Salle travels to St. Xavier to take on the Bombers, the last time to defeat La Salle, winning 24-21 last October 10 at Lancer Stadium.

Elder (5-1, 1-0 GCL South) looks to capitalize on the momentum of last week’s win against St. Xavier, a game that saw the Panthers get another big performance from senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey – who completed 17-of-30 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning, 8-yard strike to senior receiver Nick Hall in the second overtime.  Ramsey also ran for 76 yards and one score in 15 attempts.

The Panthers enter tonight ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer’s Division I weekly coaches’ poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press state rankings, while sitting No. 3 in this week’s Region 2 Harbin computer ratings – used to qualify teams for the state playoffs.  Elder’s lone loss this season is to undefeated Lakewood St. Edward, 31-20.  St. Edward is the defending Division I state champion and Ohio’s top-ranked team again this year.

Moeller (2-4, 0-2) has been slowed by injuries and tough losses against a difficult schedule.  The Crusaders’ defeats this season are to 2014 Division I state runner-up Huber Height Wayne (6-0), national power Don Bosco Prep, N.J. (3-1), and league rivals St. Xavier (4-2) and La Salle )6-0), both games that the Crusaders led in the second half.  The combined record of those opponents is 19-3.

La Salle at St. Xavier is listed as one of the MaxPreps Top 10 Games of the Week.  Few in Cincinnati will disagree, as La Salle (6-0, 1-0) looks to keep its winning streak alive and avenge its only loss in the last two seasons.  The Lancers, despite senior tailback Jeremy Larkin rushing only five times for zero yards in the win against Moeller last week, is averaging nearly 40 points a game behind an explosive offense.

The Lancers, who came up with a huge defensive stand in OT (stopping Moeller on fourth down at the 1-yard line) before getting a game-winning, 19-yard run from senior quarterback Nick Watson, were led by nine tackles each from seniors Kyle Farwick and John Willcox.  Coach Jim Hilvert’s team sits atop both the Greater Cincinnati and Ohio Division II polls, and is also a strong No. 1 in the Region 6 Harbin computer ratings.

La Salle, too, is rated No. 21 nationally in the latest MaxPreps Xcellent 25.

St. Xavier (4-2, 1-1) is led by a strong running game behind senior Sean Prophit and junior Quinn Earley, who combined to rush for 121 yards on 31 carries against Elder, an average of better than 4.5 yards per attempt. The duo is averaging just over five yards per carry this season.   Junior quarterback Sean Clifford has been solid as well, hitting on 61 percent of his passes (70-of-115) for 819 yards, nine TDs and just two interceptions.

The Bombers are rated No. 3 in Greater Cincinnati, No. 9 in Ohio, and the Bombers are at No. 12 in the  Harbin regional rankings.  The top 16 teams from Region 2 qualify for the postseason.  St. Xavier’s win at La Salle last season came on a 16-yard field goal by Miles Homan as time expired in regulation, handing the Lancers their lone blemish in a season that saw La Salle finish 14-1 and win the Division II state championship.

Posted 10/3/2015 at 4:57 p.m.

Elder, La Salle Open League Play With Huge Road Victories

Elder and La Salle hit the road for their Greater Catholic League South Division openers Friday night, and both schools needed extra time to record dramatic wins – Elder a 24-17 win in double overtime at St. Xavier, the second straight year these two schools have needed a second OT  to decide the outcome, and La Salle a 13-7 victory in OT over Moeller at Lockland Stadium to keep the Lancers streak alive.

The Panthers (5-1, 1-0 GCL South), which lost to St. Xavier, 32-24, last season in double OT at The Pit, entered the game tied at No. 7 in the Associated Press  Division I state poll, No. 2 in The Enquirer’s DI weekly coaches’ poll, and sitting at No. 3 in the Region 3 Harbin computer rankings, jumped out to a 10-0 lead before getting clutch plays from a variety of players to eventually earn the win.

Senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey had another big night, completing 17-of-30 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns, including an 8-yard strike to Nick Hall in the second OT that proved to be the winner.  Ramsey also ran for a team-high 95 yards.  Senior kicker Joe Onorato converted a 38-yard extra point to force the second OT after the Panthers were penalized for an illegal block on a potential game-winning, two-point conversion.

Finally, it was Elder’s defense that created the game’s lone turnover – a forced fumble and recovery inside its 10-yard line to negate a potential game-tying drive by St. Xavier (4-2, 1-1), ranked No. 3 locally and tied with Elder at No. 7 in the AP state rankings this week.

St. Xavier was led by junior running back Quinn Early, who rushed 14 times for 71 yards and one score in a game that was dominated by defense  - with both teams combining to convert just 7-of-25 attempts on third down on a chilly and rainy night at St. Stadium.

La Salle came into its game against Moeller averaging nearly 45 points a game, but the Lancers found themselves held scoreless through three quarters and trialing Moeller, 7-0, with their 13-game winning streak in jeopardy Friday night at Lockland Stadium.  However, a 1-yard run by junior Jarell White with 9:44 left in the game tied it, and senior quarterback Nick Watson’s 19-yard scoring run in OT gave La Salle a dramatic 13-7 win.

As a result, La Salle (6-0, 1-0) increased its unbeaten streak to 14 games dating back to last October, and also further solidified its place in the local and state rankings, along with the Division II, Region 6 Harbin computer ratings.  The Lancers began the night ranked No. 1 in the AP DII local and state polls, and also were perched atop the computer rankings used to quality team for the state playoffs.

Moeller (2-4, 0-2), which has won or shared the GCL South championship the last three seasons,  has now dropped three straight games – including two tough defeats in the GCL South on back-to-back Friday nights.  The Crusaders led St. Xavier 10-0 last week, before the Bombers rallied to score two second-half TDs post a 14-10 win at St. Xavier Stadium.

The Moeller defense was able to slow La Salle’s vaunted rushing attack, as senior Jeremy Larkin - the GCL South leading rusher entering the game - carried five times for zero yards, and White rushed 10 times for 25 yards.  Watson led the Lancers on the ground, picking up 95 yards on 14 attempts.  As a team, La Salle managed just 115 yards rushing on 32 attempts, by far a season low.

Moeller nearly doubled La Salle’s total yards on offense, 293-148, but it was the La Salle defense that came up big in OT – with senior linebacker Haydon Jester stopping Moeller inside the Lancers’ 1-yard line on the opening possession of the extra period.  Minutes later, it was Watson’s run that sent La Salle to the win – its second straight victory over Moeller for the first time in history.  La Salle won, 34-9 , last season at Lancer Stadium.

Posted on 10/2/2015 at 4:05 p.m.

Elder-St. Xavier, La Salle-Moeller Highlight Big Friday

The first full Friday night of games in the Greater Catholic League South will certainly have implications on the league championship, with St. Xavier hosting Elder as the Bombers try to move one win away from at least a share of the GCL South title, and La Salle putting its winning streak on the line when the Lancers play Moeller at Lockland Stadium.  Both games are set to kick off at 7 p.m.

Elder-St. Xavier matches two teams ranked in the Associated Press Division I state poll, two of the top three teams in The Enquirer’s weekly coaches’ poll, and two of the top three teams in this week’s Region 2 Harbin computer rankings that are used to qualify teams for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state playoffs each year.

Elder (4-1), tied with St. Xavier at No. 7 in the AP state rankings, No. 2 in The Enquirer’s Division I weekly poll and No. 3 in the Region 2 Harbin ratings, 
Looks to hand St. Xavier its first home loss this season.  The Panthers enter tonight with one of Greater Cincinnati’s most potent offenses, averaging 40 points a game behind senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey – an Indiana University commit.

Ramsey is a threat to throw the ball, completing 77-of-115 passes for a GCL-South best 1,095 yards with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and also run – carrying 50 times for 502 yards, which is third best in the GCL south, and five TDs.  Seniors Nick Hall and Robby Oswald are Ramsey’s favorite targets, while junior back Ja’Vahri Portis has rushed 105 times for 596 yards, second in the league, and a GCL South-best 13 TDs.

The Panthers, who are coming off a 56-39 win over Centerville, will face a St. Xavier defense that has not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points in a game this season, and held Colerain and Moeller to 10 points each.  And the Bombers can score, too, behind junior quarterback Sean Clifford – a Penn State commit was has connected on 63-of-98 passes for 740 yards and eight TDs.  He has been intercepted twice.

St. Xavier  (4-1, 1-1 in GCL South), which is No. 3 in The Enquirer’s poll and No. 5 in the Region 2 computer ratings, are in a stretch of four home games in five weeks – including hosting La Salle next Friday.  After next week, though, the Bombers close the season with three straight non-conference road games, at Warren Central, Ind., Cleveland St. Ignatius and Louisville St. Xavier.

In tonight’s other GCL South game, unbeaten and top-ranked La Salle (5-0) travels to Lockland Stadium to meet Moeller (2-3) in the GCL South opener for both schools.  The Lancers, No. 1 in the Division II state and local polls and also holding down the top spot in the Region 6 computer rankings, are looking to extend their winning streak to 14 games dating back to last October – when St. Xavier edged La Salle, 24-21.

Once again, La Salle boasts a potent offense that appears to be hitting its peak – scoring 49 and 56 points the last two weeks and averaging 44.4 points per game.  Leading the way is senior Jeremy Larkins, who has rushed 61 times for 739 yards – a 12.1-yard average per carry – and a total of 12 TDs, 10 rushing and two receiving.  Two weeks ago, in a 49-14 victory over Christian Brothers from Memphis, Tenn., Larkins accounted for 440 all-purpose yards and scored a career-high six times – totaling 380 yards on the six scoring plays.

Don’t be deceived by Moeller’s uncharacteristic record.  The Crusaders have lost games to Ohio Division I state runner-up Huber Heights Wayne (5-0 this season), national power Don Bosco Prep, N.J. (4-1) and St. Xavier – after leading 10-0 midway through the third quarter.  Teams that have defeated Moeller are a combined 13-2 so far.  The Crusaders have won at least a share of the GCL South championship each of the last three years.

Senior Thomas MacVittie, a Pittsburgh commit, leads the Moeller offense – having completed 40-of-74 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns in three-plus games.  He has yet to throw an interception.  Senior right end Jake Hausmann, an Ohio State commit, has caught 21 passes for 258 yards and four TDs, while senior receiver Kyle Butz has 17 catches for 377 yards and three scores.  Hunter Hughes lead Moeller in rushing, with 367 yards.

Posted on 9/26/2015 at 1:11 p.m.

Elder, La Salle Score 50-Plus Points In Non-Conference Wins

Senior running back Sean Prophit scored on a 5-yard run with 6:19 remaining, helping St. Xavier come back from a 10-0 deficit early in the third quarter to post a 14-10 victory over Moeller in the Greater Catholic League opener for both schools Friday night at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.  The win snapped a four-game losing streak to Moeller  for the Bombers (4-1, 1-0 GCL South), who have won three straight games.

St. Xavier, No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press Division I state rankings, started its rally after Moeller senior quarterback Thomas MacVittie connected with senior tight end Jake Hausmann for a 60-yard touchdown with 10:35 remaining in the third quarter to give Moeller (2-3, 0-1) a 10-0 lead.  But the Bombers’ ground game, which wound up with 161 net yards of the team’s 308 total yards, continued to plug away against Moeller.

Junior Quinn Early scored on a 9-yard run with 7:10 left in the third quarter to cut Moeller’s lead to 10-7.  The play capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive for St. Xavier, which last defeated Moeller, 49-21, on October 21, 2012.  Bombers’ senior quarterback Sean Clifford was solid in the win, completing 15-of-26 passes for 147 yards.  MacVittie hit on 11-of-27 passes for 173 yards for Moeller, while junior Hunter Hughes carried 20 times for 75 yards.

The first full night of GCL South play is Friday, when St. Xavier looks move one win away from at least a share of the GCL South championships when it hosts Elder.   Moeller will attempt to end La Salle’s double-digit winning when it welcomes the Lancers to Lockland Stadium.  Both games kick off at 7.

Here is a look at Friday’s games involving GCL South schools:

Elder 56, Centerville 39 – Senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey accounted for nearly 400 yards of total offense and six TDs, while senior running back Ja’Vahri Portis added 195 yards urshing and four scores to lead Elder (4-1), No. 9 in the AP Division I state poll.  The Panthers finished with 589 total yards and 28 first downs against Centerville (2-3), which had its two-game winning strreak snapped.  Ramsey scored on TD runs of 26, 29, 7 and 9 yards, repsecitvely, while also hitting on 11-of-15 passes for 216 yards.  Porti scored on TD runs of 3 and 6 yardes to begin and end the scoring.

The victory helped Elder rebound from its lone defeat this season, a 31-20 setback at defending Division I state champion and the state’s top-ranked team, Lakewood St. Edward  last Saturday night in Berea.  It also was victory No. 350 all time at the Panthers’ storied home venue, The Pit.

La Salle 56, Northwest 19 – Junor running back Christian Turner carried nine times for a team-high 162 yards and scored four TDs, including two rushing TDs in the second half to help La Salle (5-0) break open a nine-point halftime advantage and extend its winning streak to 13 games by handing Northwest (4-1) its first loss.  Turner, who caught an 8-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Nick Watson in the first quarter, had TD runs of 41, 14 and 38 yards, respectively, for the defending Division II state champion Lancers, No. 1 in the AP Division II State rpoll this week.

Senior Jeremy Larkin, the GCL South leading scorer coming off a six-TD performance last Saturday against Christian Brothers from Memphis, Tenn., rushed 10 times for 124 yards and one TD, a 15-yard run in the second quarter.  The 56 points is a season-high for the Lancers.

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