Defending DI State FB Champ Hands Elder First Loss Of Season

09/23/2019

Posted on 9/23/2019 at 10:57 a.m.

NE Ohio Power St. Edward Uses 21-3 Spurt To Win Third Straight Against Panthers

Defending Ohio Division I state football champion Lakewood St. Edward used a 21-3 scoring run in the second and third quarters to break open a tie game and pull away for a 42-25 victory against Elder early Saturday evening at Highland High School in Medina in the annual regular-season meeting between Northeast and Southwest state powers.

The win was the third straight for St. Edward, which defeated Colerain in last year’s state final and is considered a championship contender again.  The loss was the first this season for Elder, and now leaves the Greater Catholic League South Division with two unbeaten teams – La Salle and St. Xavier – heading into week five this Friday.

After Panthers’ junior Cooper Johnson tied the game at 14 with a fumble recovery for a touchdown with just 32 seconds remaining in the first quarter, St. Edward (3-1) scored three rushing TDs – including two by senior quarterback Connor O’Malley – in the second and third quarters to pull ahead, 35-17, entering the final quarter.  Elder only managed a 24-yard field goal by Sam Harmeyer during that span.  O’Malley finished with 11 carries for 83 yards and two scores, while also passing for 178 yards and one TD.   Senior Joseph Forman led the Eagles with 27 attempts for 166 yards and three scores.

Elder (3-1), coming off home victories against Indianapolis Cathedral, 38-21, in overtime two weeks ago, and then a thrilling 60-54 win over Clearwater Academy from Florida eight days earlier, allowed 20 first downs and 445 total yards.  The Panthers have surrendered 128 points the last three games against three highly regarded programs from outside Greater Cincinnati.

Offensively, Elder continues to be potent – finishing with 21 first downs and 401 yards while managing to convert on 7-of-14 third-down attempts and go 2-of-3 on fourth down.    While senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe, who entered the game as the GCL South leading rusher with400 yards on 35 attempts and five TDs, was unable to get untracked on the ground (carrying 13 times for three yards), he did complete 27-of-45 passes for 377 yards and two TDs.

His primary target for the second straight week was senior tight end and Ohio State University commit Joe Royer – who had 11 receptions for 166 yards.  A week earlier, Royer grabbed six passes for 106 yards and three scores, including a 23-yarder in the final two minutes that proved to be the game-winner.   Joining Royer with 100-plus yards receiving against St. Edward was senior Evan Vollmer with seven catches for 101 yards and a score. 

St. Edward has now won the last three meetings in the series, including a 36-30 come-from-behind victory at The Pit in Price Hill last September.  Elder led 28-14 at halftime in that game before the Eagles stormed back – paving the way for the school’s fourth state title  run that culminated with a 24-10 win against previously unbeaten Colerain in the final.  St. Edward also beat Elder, 40-7, in NE Ohio in 2017.  Elder’s last victory against the Eagles was in 2016, a 15-9 win at The Pit when St. Edward entered the game as the No. 1 ranked team in the United States.

St. Edward travels to Cincinnati this week to face DII state semifinalist from last season and unbeaten Winton Woods.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Winton Woods High School.  The Warriors (4-0) are coming off an impressive 34-0 victory against GCL South member Moeller last Friday, and are also scheduled to face La Salle (4-0) later this season in a game many believe could be a preview of the DII, Region 8 final.  That game is set for Friday, November 25 at La Salle’s Lancer Stadium and is part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.

Winton Woods is 5-1 against the GCL South the last two seasons, having posted two wins each against La Salle (both in 2017, 18-15 in the regular season and 16-14 in the regional semifinals) and Moeller (one win each in 2017 and 2018).  Elder holds the league’s lone victory against Winton Woods the last two seasons, winning 35-34 in overtime in 2017, before Winton Woods posted a 28-10 win at The Pit last season.