Luebbe Runs Elder To Key Victory Over St. Xavier In GCL Opener


Posted on 10/6/2019 at 9:29 a.m.

Career Night for La Salle QB Branam Leads Lancers To Win In League Debut

Senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe, who entered Friday night’s Greater Catholic League South Division marquee matchup against unbeaten St. Xavier as the league’s leading rusher through five games, carried 21 times for a season-high 236 yards and three touchdowns as Elder built a 17-7 halftime lead and held off a late rally to post a 31-28 victory over St. Xavier before a raucous sellout crowd at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium.

The game was the 100th meeting all-time between the two league rivals and two teams ranked among the state’s elite teams in this week’s Associated Press Division I state poll – with St. Xavier at No. 2 and Elder at No. 8.  The loss is the first this season for St. Xavier (5-1, 1-1 GCL South), while Elder (5-1, 1-0) won its second straight after suffering its only loss to defending DI state champion Lakewood St. Edward, 42-25, two weeks ago in Northeast Ohio.

Elder now leads the series, 52-42-6.

Like Elder, La Salle opened  its GCL South schedule with a victory last night –thanks to a career night for Lancers’ junior quarterback Zach Branam, who accounted for six total TDs (five rushing and one passing) to lead La Salle to a convincing 41-20 win against Moeller in its league opener at Princeton High School, where Moeller is playing the majority of its home games this season.  The win keeps La Salle (6-0, 1-0 GCL South) unbeaten and tied with Elder atop the league standings.  Moeller (1-5, 0-2), the defending GCL South champion, lost its third straight.

Luebbe and St. Xavier quarterback Matthew Rueve came into the game having recorded eye-popping numbers through the first half of the season.  Rueve led the GCL South in passing, having connected on 108-of-163 passes for 1,314 yards with 13 TDs and no interceptions.  Lueebe was second in passing yards with 1,020, while tossing 11 TDs and just three interceptions.  He also was the leading rusher with 413 yards to go along with five TDs on the ground.  Against St. Xavier, Luebbe only completed 4-of-14 passes for 60 yards.  But he did his damage running, scoring on TD scampers of 6 and 5 yards, respectively, in the first quarter to give Elder an early 14-0 advantage.  The Panthers went to the locker room with a 10-point advantage at the half.

With 9:18 left in the third quarter, Luebbe broke free for an 83-yard TD run to put Elder up 24-7.  St. Xavier answered with consecutive scores in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Rueve and a 3-yard pass from Rueve to senior tight end Marshall Lang to make it 24-21 with 2:51 left, but Elder iced the win on a 45-yard scoring run by sophomore Drew Ramsey with 1:46 to go.  Rueve had another solid performance, completing 34-of-49 passes for 328 yards with three TDs and his first two interceptions of the year.  Lang, a Northwestern University commit, had a huge night with 11 receptions for 126 yards and the TD catch, while junior Liam Clifford – who leads the league in receptions (49) and receiving yards (718) caught seven passes for 87 yards and one score.

But on this night, it was Elder’s rushing attack that was the difference.  The Panthers had 38 rushing attempts for 316 yards and four TDs, an average of 8.3 yards per rush.  St. Xavier had more first downs, 26 to 14, and total yards, 434 to 376, but it was Elder’s ability to effectively run the football that was the difference.  The Bombers also had two turnovers to just one miscue for Elder.  Last season, Elder defeated St. Xavier, 51-26, at The Pit in Price Hill behind 569 yards of total offense, including four rushing scores.

The stage wasn’t too big for Branam, a first-year starter at La Salle who was playing in his first GCL South game Friday night.  All Branam did was carry 19 times for career highs of 263 yards and five TDs, including a 77-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter that gave the Lancers a 41-13 lead.  La Salle finished with 21 first downs and 510 total yards,m including 46 rushes for 464 total yards, an average of better than 10 yards per attempt.  The Lancers’ defense did the rest, limiting Moeller to 190 yards total offense and 3-of-9 on third-down conversions.

Branam, who also entered the game with 11 TD passes without throwing an interception, was picked off for the first time this season.  He completed 6-of-9 pass attempts for just 46 yards, but the Lancers made up for ..  Branam scored on runs of 4, 13, 36, 53 and 77 yards, respectively, while Lancers’ sophomore Gi’Bran Payne also had a career night, carrying 13 times for 162 yards and a 78-yard TD run.

La Salle’s unblemished record will be tested next Friday, when the Lancers travel to Park Hills, Ky. to face undefeated Covington Catholic in Park Hills.  The Colonels (7-0), who defeated Boone County, 45-0, last night to extend their regular-season winning streak to 27 games dating back to October 28, 2016 and a 35-28 home loss to Scott County.  La Salle, however, won four straight meetings with CovCath from 2009 to 2012 before the interstate series was discontinued.

St. Xavier also steps out of league play in week seven to host Clarkson Football North from Canada.  Elder will attempt to move one win away from an outright GCL South championship when it hosts Moeller at The Pit.  The game is part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.  Elder will close its league schedule the final night of the regular season when the Panthers visit La Salle.  The Lancers have a brutal four games remaining, with the trip to CovCath followed by an away game at St. Xavier, before hosting Winton Woods and Elder the final two weeks.