State champs: Moeller's crusade completed
December 2, 2012Cincinnati Moeller High School
By Kevin Goheen
CANTON — Moeller won its first Division I state football title in 27 years Saturday night with a 20-12 victory against Toledo Whitmer at Fawcett Stadium.
The Crusaders scored 17 straight points in the first half after falling behind 6-0 and then held off Whitmer’s rally attempts in the second half to claim the eighth state title in program history.
Senior cornerback Chris Kessling knocked down a fourth-and-11 pass attempt by Whitmer senior quarterback Nick Holley with 55 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Moeller senior quarterback Spencer Iacovone threw for one touchdown and rushed for another, while senior kicker Matt Reiniger had field goals of 20 and 22 yards. His 22-yarder with 1:54 remaining provided the final score and forced Whitmer into needing to go 80 yards for a touchdown and two-point conversion with no timeouts remaining.
Moeller finishes 12-3. It was appearing in the state championship game for the first time since 1997. It last won a state title in 1985.
Whitmer, which was appearing in its first state championship game, suffered its first loss of the season to finish 14-1.
Moeller was unranked in the final Associated Press state poll after being nationally ranked in the preseason. Whitmer was No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 6 nationally by MaxPreps.com.
Whitmer scored first, taking the opening drive of the game 80 yards on seven plays and scoring on a 37-yard pass from Nick Holley to wide receiver Michael Dzikowski. The Moeller secondary got caught looking into the backfield and Dzikowski was all alone for the reception.
Moeller controlled the rest of the first half from that point. The Crusaders scored on their first three possessions and forced two Whitmer turnovers to take a 17-6 halftime lead.
Reiniger kicked a 20-yard field after Moeller’s first drive stalled at the Whitmer 3.
Senior Jake McCluskey recovered a Nick Holley fumble at the Whitmer 19. Senior running back Keith Watkins turned that into a touchdown when he took a swing pass from Iacovone and beat the Whitmer defense for a 6-yard score.
Logan Kelleher’s interception of a deep pass attempt at the Moeller 29 was turned into a 71-yard touchdown drive by the Crusaders’ offense. Iacovone sneaked the ball in from the 1 for the score.
Moeller would have had more points on the board but a 37-yard touchdown pass from Iacovone to tight end Casey Pieper was wiped out by a pass interference penalty.
Moeller had the ball for 16 minutes, 23 seconds in the first half while churning out 199 yards on 38 plays.
Whitmer cut the deficit to 17-12 in the third quarter on a 20-yard pass from Nick Holley to Nate Holley, his twin brother.