Fourth-Quarter Rally Leads St. Xavier Past Elder


Posted on 9/13/2020 at 7:05 a.m.

La Salle Wins Non-League Game; Moeller Falls at Louisville Trinity
After trailing for much of the game, including facing a 24-17 deficit entering the fourth quarter, St. Xavier scored 21 unanswered points to post a 38-24 victory against Elder in a key Greater Catholic League South Division game Friday night at The Pit on Elder’s Price Hill campus.  The win moves St. Xavier one win away (when it hosts Moeller in two weeks) from clinching the league championship outright for the first time since 2017.
St. Xavier (2-1, 2-0 GCL South), which opened the conference schedule with a 24-10 win at defending champion La Salle one week earlier, used another solid performance from junior quarterback Brogan McCaughey and a running game that produced two fourh-quarter TDs to come from behind against Elder (1-2, 0-2), which opened the regular season with a 53-52 loss in double overtime to La Salle two weeks earlier.
La Salle and Moeller stepped out of GCL South play last night to go 1-1.  The Lancers, looking to rebound from the St. Xavier loss, scored 21 points to begin the game and posted a 35-13 win against Lakota East from the Greater Miami Conference on East’s Liberty Township campus.  The sledding was more difficult for Moeller, which played its second straight interstate opponent in as many weeks and lost at nationally ranked and defending Class 6A state champion Louisville Trinity, 44-7.
The Elder-St. Xavier matchup certainly lived up to its pre-game hype.  Elder, led by first-year starting junior QB Ben Hambelton, held leads of 10-0, 17-10 and 24-17 through the first three quarters.  Hambelton connected on 15-of-23 passes for 282 yards and three TDs, giving him 10 passing TDs with no interceptions through three games.  Senior Scott Nioeman (four catches, 114 yards, two TDs) and junior Drew Rasmey (5-79-1) were Hambelton’s primary targets.
Elder, however, was unable to get its ground game untracked – finishing with 22 carries for 21 net yards.  Instead, it was St. Xavier that managed to break through on the ground – led by junior Charles Kellom, who rushed 12 times for 77 yards and an 8-yard scoring run that tied the game, 24-24.  Senior Luke Vransky carried 15 times for 64 yards and two TDs, one covering 26 yards with 1:01 remaining to ice the game.
The Bombers, who also got 200 yards and two scores on 17-of-26 passes from junior Brogan McCCaughey was diverse on offense.  McCaughey spread his passes around to five different targets, hitting senior Lucas Cates with an 18-yard TD strike to give the Bombers a 31-24 lead with 5:09 left in the game.  St. Xavier, which travels to Indianapolis to face Cathedral next Friday, outgained Elder, 158-21, on the ground.  Elder closes out its GCL South schedule against Moeller at 7 p.m. next Friday at The Pit.
La Salle (2-1) got a reprieve after two grueling GCL South games to start the year, and the Lancers turned in a strong performance on both sides of the ball against East (0-3), which opened with consecutive losses by a total of 10 points to Sycamore (34-31) and unbeaten Mason (28-21).  Senior quarterback Zach Branam rushed 11 times for 99 yards and two TDs, while also completing 9-of-12 passes for 116 yards, and junior back Gi’Bran Payne added 58 yards and two TDs on the ground for the Lancers.
The Lancers’ defense forced three turnovers while not committing any miscues.  La Salle travels to Louisville next Friday to face DuPont Manual, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.  This will be the season opener for DuPont Manual, which had a scrimmage last night before its season opener against the Lancers.  Last week was the first week that Kentucky high schools could face opponents in fall contact sports.
Moeler (1-2), which one week earlier traveled to St. Leon, Ind. to face East Central (a 21-6 loss for the Crusaders) after going to Columbus to post a come-from-behind win against Bishop Hartley in the opener, faced a team from a third different state on Friday – and one of the perennial best programs in Kentucky, the region and the country in Trinity.  The Shamrocks played the part, scoring five first-half TDs en toute to a 37-0 lead at intermission.
The Crusaders had 125 total yards of offense, with 75 coming on its only scoring play (a 74-yard pass from senior quarterback TJ Rotello to sophomore receiver Temel Bryant, and five first downs against a fast and talented Trinity defense.  Moeller rushed 18 times for 24 net yards and committed three turnovers.  The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Moeller, which closes the six-game Ohio regular season with GCL South road games at Elder, St. Xavier and La Salle the final three weeks.