Kellom’s Four TDs Help St. Xavier Past Elder In Semis

10/24/2020

Posted on 10/24/2020 3:04 p.m.

Bombers Use Explosive Offense To Beat Elder, Earn Regional Final Berth

A 15-hour delay and an uncharacteristic Saturday morning kickoff did little to negatively impact St. Xavier and its recent offensive surge as the Bombers used a variety of big plays and a huge second half to pull away from Greater Catholic League South Division rival Elder and post a 56-28 victory earlier today at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium in a Division I, Region 4 semifinal of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament.

The victory, St. Xavier’s second this season over Elder, moves the No. 3 seed Bombers – the GCL South champions this season – into the regional final next Friday against No. 1 seed Lakota West, which defeated Colerain, 23-7, in the other regional semifinal played today.  Both games were scheduled for Friday night, but lightning and thunderstorms in Greater Cincinnati prompted school officials to move kickoffs to 10 this morning.  The regional final will be played at Lakota West’s Firebird Stadium at 7 p.m. in West Chester.

St. Xavier (7-2), which is 7-0 against teams from Ohio and has won seven of its last eight games, last played West (8-0) to kick off the 2018 season at Paul Brown Stadium – a game won by the Bombers, 34-0.  The two teams also scrimmaged back In August.  It will match St. Xavier’s offense, which has scored 63, 49, 45 and 56 points, respectively, in its last four games, against a West defense that has pitched four shutouts, held six opponents to single digits and has only allowed 41 points in winning the Greater Miami Conference title.  West also beat Colerain, 10-0, in week one.

St. Xavier – which trailed Elder by seven or more points three times during the regular-season meeting earlier this month at The Pit in Price Hill before scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away, 38-24, used big plays in the first half to head to intermission with a 28-14 lead this time.  But Elder (5-4), which swept two games from St. Xavier last season and advanced to the DI state final, rallied back after junior quarterback Ben Hambelton connected with junior Drew Ramsey on a 65-yard pass on third down to set up a 4-yard TD run by Ramsey to make it 28-21.  Then, just 11 seconds later, senior defense end Tony Willenborg picked off a short pass by St. Xavier’s Brogan McCaughey and returned it 21 yards for a score to tie the game at 28 with under nine minutes left in the third quarter.

But St. Xavier came right back on offense, scoring the game’s final 28 points to pull away and earn its first trip to the regional final since 2016 – when the Bombers won their third state championship after finishing just 5-5 during the regular season.  McCaughey first hit junior tailback Charles Kellom with an 8-yard score, then back Luke Vrsansky ran it in from 5 yards to make it 42-28.  The Bombers’ scored two more times, both by Kellom – the first a 22-yard reception and the last a 10-yard run.

McCaughey finished by completing 17-of-25 passes for 345 yards and five TDs, including strikes of 65 yards to junior Jalen Patterson and 63 yards to senior Liam Clifford, a Penn State University recruit who caught five passes for 127 yards – all in the first half.  Patterson finished with four catches for 101 yards.  Kellom had a versatile game, scoring four total TDs – two rushing and two receiving.  He was named the Most Valuable Player in a game that also was featured as part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown presented by Mercy Health Orthopaedics & Medicine, and Meijer.  Kellom rushed 12 times for 78 yards, while also hauling in three passes for 37 yards.

St. Xavier managed to somewhat slow Hambelton, who was sacked three times and completed 6-of-14 passes for 169 yards.  Ramsey, who accounted for more than 300 yards total offense and had four rushing TDs two weeks ago in the first round against Fairfield, caught five passes for 141 yards but was held to just 51 yards rushing on 19 attempts.  Senior Scott Nieman hauled in five passes for 74 yards, while senior back Cooper Johnson ran for 100 yards on 17 rushes, including a10-yard TD run.  Elder’s four losses this season are to St. Xavier (twice), La Salle and undefeated Indianapolis Cathedral, the top-ranked team in Indiana.