Moeller D Moves Crusaders Closer To Three-Peat

11/23/2014

Posted on 11/23/2014 at 8:33am

Moeller’s defense, which came into Saturday’s rematch with GCL South rival St. Xavier having held its first two playoff opponents to a combined xx yards rushing, turned in another impressive performance – lifting the Crusaders to a 21-0 victory in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I, Region 2 semifinals at Mason High School and moving Moeller just two wins away from winning a third consecutive state championship.

Moeller (9-3), which has now won four straight games, advances to meet Huber Heights Wayne (12-1) in the Region 2 final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Mason High School’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.  Wayne advanced to the regional final with a 38-3 victory over Lakota West Saturday night at Welcome Stadium.  Hudson (18-1) will play Lakewood St. Edward (11-2) in the Region 1 final, with the winners meeting in the state championship.

Led by senior nose guard Elijah Taylor, senior linebacker Ryan Stofko and senior defensive back Noah Able, the Moeller defense turned away St. Xavier scoring opportunities all night.  The Bombers, who entered the game as the region’s No. 2 seed and riding an impressive seven-game winning streak, finished with 59 yards rushing in 34 attempts.  In all, St. Xavier ran 68 plays and totaled 208 yards.

Taylor (a Notre Dame commit) and the Crusaders’ defensive front put constant pressure on St. Xavier, shutting down the Bombers’ vaunted rushing attack.  Taylor finished with a team-high 14 solo and 15 total tackles, while Stofko added 11 total tackles.  Able had six tackles and also intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter, the first of which he returned 36 yards for a touchdown to put the game away.

St. Xavier (10-3) also played extremely well defensively, holding Moeller to 11 first downs, 94 yards rushing on 32 attempts, and a total of 198 yards on 46 plays.  The Bombers held a significant edge in time of possession, 27:36-18:23, but were unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities.  Senior Cole Jones had 11 total tackles, junior Hayden Specht seven, senior Justin Hilliard six, and senior Simeon Lane five to lead St. Xavier.

Moeller’s biggest defense stand might have come on the first drive of the game, when St. Xavier took the opening kickoff and mounted an 18-play drive that last more than nine minutes.  But senior Ben Glines was stopped on fourth and one at the Moeller 13-yard line. Then, in the second quarter, Taylor tackled St. Xavier quarterback Matt Wittrock in the backfield on fourth and two at the Crusaders’ 32.

The win was the fourth straight for Moeller over its league rival, including a similar, defensive-minded 13-7 victory at St. Xavier in week five of the regular season.  The Crusaders also defeated St. Xavier twice last year, winning in the regular season and the first round of the state playoffs.  Moeller takes a 13-game postseason winning streak into Saturday’s game against Wayne.