Crusaders Win a Thriller at Nippert
August 31, 2013Cincinnati Moeller High School
Written by Kevin Kelly, Cincinnati Enquirer
Photo by Joseph Fuqua II
Crusaders score winning TD with 11 seconds remaining
Trailing by three points with 20 seconds remaining late Friday at Nippert Stadium, Moeller knew it had to take a shot downfield.
One play came to mind.
“We hadn’t run it all game and it’s kind of a once a game type of play,” Crusaders coach John Rodenberg said. “We hadn’t run it all game and it’s kind of a once a game type of play. It’s just a big hitter.”
It worked to perfection against Indianapolis Pike.
The defending Division I state champion Crusaders took the lead on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Gus Ragland to Chase Pankey with 11 seconds remaining for a pulse-pounding 37-33 victory against the Red Devils (1-1) in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
“Football endings don’t get much better than that,” Ragland said. “What’s so special about it though is on that last drive we all knew we were going to put in the end zone. Every trusted the person to their right and left. We just knew we were going to get it done.”
The senior quarterback rolled out to his right and into the soupy air heaved a pass that found its way into Pankey’s arms. With a linebacker draped on his back, the junior wide receiver crossed the goal line and crashed to the turf.
“Once I lined up, I saw the safety was over to the left and no cornerback was on me,” Pankey said. “I set him up outside and then cut left for a post and Gus just threw a heck of a ball. I caught it cleanly but then I hit the ground and it came out.”
It was an excruciating ending for Indiana’s fifth-ranked Class 6A team.
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” Indianapolis Pike coach Derek Moyers said. “I feel awful for our kids. Our coaches have worked so hard this week. To have a game come down like that…you’ve got to give Moeller credit but I think we did a lot to lose that game.”
PLAY OF THE GAME: Ragland’s game-winning touchdown pass to Pankey one-upped his counterpart on the opposite sideline.
Indianapolis Pike trailed 30-27 in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Brent Lyles tucked the ball and ran 25 yards on third and 20 from Moeller’s 40-yard line. Two plays later, Lyles scored on a 10-yard run to put the Red Devils ahead 33-30 with 3:37 remaining in the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Ragland moved from wide receiver to quarterback this season and was a workhorse Friday.
He carried the ball 25 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air, he completed 10 of 18 passes for 132 yards and the one touchdown. On two occasions, Ragland’s helmet was knocked off after taking a hit and he had to leave the game but quickly returned.
“I feel pretty beat up but it’s just what you’ve got to do,” Ragland said. “For the most part the line did a great job getting a push and they opened up a lot of holes for me tonight.”
VIEW FROM THE SIDELINES: Rodenberg: “I’ve been in a number of these type of games and we just played a great football team. They deserve a lot of credit. We think we called the right play, we waited for it and that’s why you kind of practice certain things like that. We had a shot and he came open and it worked out for us. I was really pleased with the way we played.”
Moyers: “When is saw the ball in the air I was just hoping both of our safeties were back. The kid made a nice catch. In a situation like that, we can’t have anybody behind us. That’s the only thing that can hurt us. If they get into field goal range and kick a field goal, they kick a field goal. But you can’t have a touchdown. You just can’t. That’s on the coaches, so we’ve got to fix that.”
EXTRA POINTS: Pike finished with 454 total yards while Moeller had 453….Moeller senior running back Dean Meyer ran for 100 yards on 17 carries and scored twice….Indianapolis Pike senior running back Taylor Sanders finished with 138 rushing yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns….Moeller senior defensive lineman Chalmer Frueauf was credited with two sacks….The Crusaders wore gray Nike uniforms for its season opener. Athletic director Mike Asbeck said Moeller was one of three high school teams in the country with the special uniforms….The Crusaders improved to 12-3 all-time in the Crosstown Showdown with its seventh consecutive victory in the annual high school showcase.
Moeller 37, Indianapolis Pike 33
P – 7 – 7 – 7 – 12 -- 33
M – 2 – 14 – 7 – 14 -- 37
P – Sanders 17-run (Watkins kick)
M – Safety
M – Meyer 7-yard run (Coghlin kick)
P – Sanders 52-yard run (Watkins kick)
M – Ragland 1-yard run (Coghlin kick)
M – Meyer 8-yard run (Coghlin kick)
P – Medaris 9-yard pass from Lyles (Watkins kick)