Tough Saturday For GCL South Football Teams

10/23/2016

Posted on 10/23/2016 at 6:11 p.m.

Moeller, St. Xavier Fall To Northeast Ohio Powers In DH

Moeller and St. Xavier were both looking to take a step in the right direction Saturday when the Greater Catholic League South Division members hosted two of the state’s top-ranked teams in a Northeast versus Southwest Ohio football doubleheader in Greater Cincinnati.  Moeller was attempting to snap a four-game losing streak, avert the school’s first losing season and keep its playoff hopes alive, while St. Xavier was hoping to erase two tough losses and strengthen its state playoff position.

Instead, both GCL South members suffered defeats Saturday – St. Xavier falling to Cleveland St. Ignatius, 31-14, in the afternoon at St. Xavier Stadium’s Ballaban Field, and then Moeller losing to Lakewood St. Edward, 24-21, in the game’s final seconds in early evening at Lockland Stadium.

The loss was the third straight for St. Xavier (4-5), which was coming off a 19-18 defeat to nationally ranked Warren Central, IN eight days ago on a 42-yard “Hail Mary” touchdown pass on an untimed down on the game’s final play.

It was a school-record fifth straight defeat for Moeller (3-6), which rallied to tie the game at 21 with just under two-and-a-half minutes remaining before the two-time defending Division I state champions mounted a drive that ended with a 45-yard, game-winning field goal by the Eagles’ Mason Lawler with four seconds left.

The weekly Ohio High School Athletic Association Harbin ratings, a computer formula used to qualify teams for the postseason, will be released Tuesday afternoon.  But, according to www.joeeitel.com, a website that predicts the OHSAA regional Harbin totals, Moeller has been eliminated from playoff competition – the second straight year the Crusaders will not advance to postseason play after winning the state’s Division I football titles in 2012 and 2013 and earning a playoff berth in 2014.

Joe Eitel projects that St. Xavier will hold down the No. 8 position when the OHSAA releases its official rankings – meaning that the Bombers would grab the eighth and final position in Division I, Region 4.  If it winds up remaining in the that position, St Xavier would face No. 1 seed Colerain in the first round of postseason play.  Joe Eitel’ has Elder in the No. 4 spot heading into the final week of the regular season; La Salle (7-2), which travels to Elder, is projected to be No. 3 seed in Division II, Region 8 – having already clinched a playoff berth.

Elder hosts La Salle at 7 p.m. Friday in a game that will determine the GCL South championship.  If La Salle wins, the Lancers will earn its first outright football title in school history.  An Elder victory will mean a three-way tie atop a league that was voted the second toughest in the country by MaxPreps, along with La Salle and St. Xavier.

St. Xavier fell behind St. Ignatius (8-1), ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Division I state rankings, by an insurmountable 24-0 deficit with just under four minutes remaining before halftime after Wildcats’ senior quarterback Patrick Ryan connected on his second long touchdown pass.  The Bombers cut it to 24-7 with 19 seconds left before intermission on a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Chase Wolf.  St. Xavier did not score again until its final play from scrimmage on a 26-yard Wolf TD pass to senior Nicholas Moeller.

The Bombers’ offense was unable to get its running back untracked, rushing 26 times for just 51 yards.  Wolf was 24-of-44 passing for 179 yards, one TD and two interceptions.  Ryan was 8-of-13 passing for 225 yards and three TDs as St. Ignatius strengthened its hold on a postseason spot in Division I, Region 1.  St. Xavier will attempt to earn a postseason berth when it hosts Louisville St. Xavier (7-2), winner of three straight and six of its last seven games, at 7 p.m.  Friday.

Moeller, on the other hand, will be attempting to send its seniors out with a victory when it hosts Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada, located in St. Catherines, Ontario at 1 p.m. Saturday, the first game ever played on Moeller High School’s campus in Montgomery.  The Crusaders had a chance to remain in the playoff picture with a win over St. Edward, No. 4 in the AP Division I state poll, in a game that was tied at halftime and then tied in the final minutes before St. Edward left Cincinnati with a 1-1 record this season (falling 15-9 at Elder last month).

A 99-yard kickoff return by Crusaders’ sophomore RJ Khayo with 8:53 remaining in the second quarter tied the game 14-14.  In the process, Khayo broke his own record by one yard for the longest kickoff return in school history – having returned one for 98 yards and a score against St. Xavier earlier this season.  Moeller battled back again to tie it at 21 when senior quarterback Pete Lambert connected with junior Eric Wills for a 33-yard TD with 2:27 left in the game.