By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
After being held scoreless in the first half, Moeller scored 19 unanswered points in the second half – 13 coming in the fourth quarter – to post a 19-14 victory over St. Xavier in the Greater Catholic League South Division opener for both schools Friday night at St. Xavier High School. The game’s start time, originally scheduled for 7 p.m., was moved back 90 minutes in an attempt to avoid any lightning delays in anticipation of the predicted thunderstorms expected to hit Greater Cincinnati Friday night, making Crusaders’ first-year coach Doug Rossfeld to wait a little longer to record his inaugural win in the GCL South.
La Salle was the only other GCL South team in action Friday, as the Lancers (4-1) won their fourth consecutive game with a 52-6 win against Royal Imperial Collegiate from Ontario, Canada at La Salle. The Lancers’ defense has allowed just 25 points in its last three games. Elder (3-1) will attempt to earn a split against Northeast Ohio when it travels to face Cleveland St. Ignatius at 3 p.m. today at Byers Field in Parma. The Panthers had their three-game winning streak snapped last Saturday with a 36-30 loss at home to Lakewood St. Edward in Price Hill.
For two quarters, the St. Xavier defense held Moeller (4-1, 1-0 GCL South) without a point and even scored the game’s lone touchdown when Bombers’ senior linebacker Nathan Arthur returned an interception 30 yards for a score with 3:!7 remaining in the first half to give St. Xavier a 7-0 lead at intermission. There was no scoring by either team until Moeller senior quarterback Mitch McKenzie tied the game with just 1:50 left in the third quarter, scoring on a 1-yad run. Moeller then started to move the ball, and Crusaders’ junior kicker Kevin Thibodeaux converted field goals of 29 and 44 yards, respectively, to give Moeller a 13-7 with under five minutes left in the game.
Moeller’s defense then stepped up when senior defensive back BJ Hendrix intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards for a score and, after the ensuing two-point conversion failed, Moeller had a 19-7 lead with 3:50 left. St. Xavier (2-3, 1-1) scored its lone offensive TD of the game with 1:50 remaining, when Marshall Lang hauled in a 27-yard pass from quarterback Wyatt Hudepohl to make it 19-14. Neither team was able to get much going offensively, as Moeller finished with nine first downs, 189 yards total offense and two turnovers. St. Xavier totaled 11 first downs, 231 yards offense and two turnovers.
Senior running back Chrystopher Watkins paced Moeller, picking up 96 yards on 20 carries. St. Xavier senior receiver Jared Kreimer caught seven passes for 116 yards; he also punted seven times for a 43.1-yard average, including a long punt of 58 yards. Senior defensive end Ryan Mullaney led Moeller’s defense with 10 total tackles and two sacks, including a forced St. Xavier fumble and recovery late in the third quarter that set up Thibodeaux’s go-ahead, 29-yard field goal early in the final quarter. Moeller held St. Xavier to just 27 net yards rushing on 25 attempts, a 1.1-yard average per carry.
St. Xavier senior defensive end Thomas Kiessling had 13 total tackles, including six solos, while teammates Eddie Krumdieck had 11 total tackles and Nathan Arthur had 10 to go along with his interception and return for a TD. The Bombers’ defense limited Moeller to just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions. Moeller remains on the road in the GCL South next Friday night, traveling to La Salle for the Lancers’ league opener. St. Xavier is at Elder that same night as the Panthers kick off their GCL South schedule.