St. X Holds Off Moeller in GCL South Opener


Posted on 9/25/2016 at 11:18 a.m.

Elder, La Salle Win Final Non-Conference Tune-Ups Before League Play

St. Xavier quarterbacks Sean Clifford and Chase Wolf each threw touchdowns passes, and Clifford ran for another score to help the Bombers build a three-TD lead and eventually hold on for a 21-14 win over Moeller in the Greater Catholic League South Division opener for both schools Friday night at a sold-out Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium.  The win was the third straight for St. Xavier, and gives the Bombers an early lead in the league race.  Elder and La Salle open league play next week after posting non-conference wins Friday night.

Clifford, a senior and Penn State University commit coming off a strong performance in St. Xavier’s win last Friday at previously unbeaten Indianapolis Cathedral, connected on 17-of-24 passes for 156 yards the game’s first score – a 14-yard strike to junior Andrew Wittrock with 1:52 left in the first quarter to give St. Xavier (3-2, 1-0 GCL South) a 7-0 lead.  The Bombers extended the advantage to 14-0 on a 16-yard TD toss from junior Wolf to Wittrock with just 28 seconds remaining in the first half.  Wolf finished 5-for-5 for 52 yards and the one TD. 

It was Clifford’s 1-yard TD run with 6:17 left in the third quarter that gave a tough St. Xavier defense a seemingly insurmountable lead.  That was before Moeller sophomore RJ Khayo returned the ensuing kickoff a school-record 98 yards for a score to narrow the gap.  Moeller senior quarterback Evan Ernst scored on a 1-yard run with 3:24 remaining in the game to bring Moeller (3-2, 0-1) within one score at 21-14, but the Bombers were able to emerge victorious.

St. Xavier was not guilty of a turnover in the game, while Moeller committed four miscues – including turnovers on the Crusaders’ first three drives of the game.  The win was the second straight for St. Xavier in the series.  The Bombers had lost four straight to Moeller before rallying for a 14-10 win last season at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, a game that Moeller led 10-0 in their third quarter.  The win should move St. Xavier into a solid position when this week’s Division I, Region 4 Harbin computer rankings are released Tuesday.

Ernst finished 17-of-33 for 224 yards, but was intercepted twice by St. Xavier.  Junior Colin Thurman led Moeller on the ground, picking up 90 yards on 17 attempts.  St. Xavier, however, held Moeller to just 106 yards rushing on 35 attempts.  St. Xavier was limited to only 91 yards on the ground on 30 attempts by the Moeller defense; senior Cameron Specht led the Bombers’ offense with nine catches for 67 yards.  St. Xavier controlled the time of possession, holding the ball for almost nine minutes more than the Crusaders.

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

Elder 42, Pittsburgh Prep 0 – The Panthers had little trouble in their final non-conference game, winning for the fourth straight week – this time doing most of the damage on the ground.  Michael Mittner and Tiariq Bailey each score two TDs for Elder (4-1), which rushed 49 times for 308 yards and jumped out to a 28-0 lead at halftime.  The Panthers, coming off an impressive 15-9 win last week over two-time defending Division I state champion Lakewood St. Edward, allowed just two first downs and 49 total yards in the victory,

Elder opens GCL South play by hosting St. Xavier at 7 next Friday at The Pit.

La Salle 20, Winton Woods 13 – The Lancers got a pair of TD passes from Griffin Merritt to Christian Turner, and Jarrel White returned an interception 45 yards for a score to snap a two-game losing streak.  Merritt, La Salle’s junior quarterback, completed 10-of-16 passes for 122 yards and two scores.  Five of his completions were to Turner, a senior running back, who wound up with 115 receiving yards.  White’s third-quarter interception return gave La Salle a 20-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter against Winton Woods (2-3).

La Salle plays its first GCL South game at 7 next Friday against Moeller at Lancer Stadium.