STATE CHAMPS STORE
Crusaders Prevail in Moeller-St. Xavier Classic
September 30, 2013Cincinnati Moeller High School
By Kevin Kelly, Cincinnati Enquirer
Crusaders prevail in Moeller-St. X classic
A year after St. Xavier handily defeated Moeller, the Greater Catholic League South rivals met Friday at Nippert Stadium and played a classic.
Moeller kicker Matt Coghlin made a 35-yard field goal in overtime to give the Crusaders a 20-17 victory. The sophomore had tied the game with a 30-yard field goal with 1 second remaining in regulation.
“It’s unbelievable,” Coghlin said. “No better setting; X versus Moeller. Just a perfect atmosphere.”
Moeller (5-0, 1-0 GCL South) won the coin toss and sent its defense onto the field first. St. Xavier (3-2, 0-1) got as far as the 2-yard line and threw on fourth down.
Senior defensive back Mitch Brauning broke up the pass for the Crusaders.
“We were having trouble running the ball the whole game,” St. Xavier coach Steve Specht said. “We went with a high percentage pass and they made a play. They made one more play than we did.”
The Bombers, ranked No. 3 in The Enquirer’s Division I area coaches’ poll, finished with 40 rushing yards and averaged 1.4 yards per carry in the game.
“Being able to stop the run, we forced them to pass,” Moeller coach John Rodenberg said. “They did a great job passing. They did something we didn’t think they were going to do – they threw the ball a lot more than I thought they would. And then we were stopping the run so well.”
The Bombers had taken a 17-14 lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nick Tensing to senior wide receiver Joey Arbino with 6:21 remaining and then forced a Moeller turnover with 3:06 remaining in regulation.
The Crusaders, ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer’s D-I coaches’ poll, got the ball back with 2:13 left on the clock and drove 60 yards to the St. Xavier 13-yard line. A 25-yard pass from junior quarterback Matt Crable to sophomore tight end Jake Hausmann put them in Coghlin’s range.
St. Xavier used its remaining timeouts to ice Coghlin, but he kept his composure.
“I just went over (to the sideline) and did the same thing every time,” he said. “I went through my routine of three steps back and two steps over.”
When Moeller got the ball in overtime, they advanced only to the 18-yard line. Coghlin came out and calmly delivered the game-winning kick.
“My coach just said, ‘Stay calm. It’s an easy chip shot,” he said.
St. Xavier trailed by four at halftime and opened the second half on offense. Tensing guided the Bombers downfield on an 11 play, 69-yard scoring drive.
A 23-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Connor Jones in the right corner of the endzone put St. Xavier in front, 10-7, with 8:06 remaining. Tensing finished 20 of 31 passing for 209 yards.
The Crusaders took a 7-3 lead with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter after a St. Xavier fumble. Junior linebacker Ryan Stofko was credited with forcing the fumble and junior cornerback Christian Wersel recovered it with 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
A 1-yard touchdown pass from Crable to Hausmann capped a 17-play drive that covered 75 yards and took more than seven minutes off the clock.
St. Xavier turned an interception by junior defensive back David Leisring into an early 3-0 lead. Senior kicker Trevor Bechtold made a 26-yard field goal with 3:04 remaining in the first quarter.
Moeller held the ball for more than 15 minutes in the first half.
PLAYS OF THE GAME: St. Xavier had the ball at its own 19-yard line late in the third quarter when Moeller senior linebacker Will Mercurio intercepted a Tensing pass at the 15-yard line and ran it back for a touchdown. The interception return gave the Crusaders at 14-10 lead with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter.
* Leading by three and with Moeller driving in the fourth quarter, St. Xavier forced and recovered a fumble. The turnover came on a pass from Crable to tight end Doug Bates. Leisring was credited with knocking the ball loose. Senior linebacker Andy Wentzel recovered it with 3:06 remaining.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Coghlin missed a 48-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half but came back and hit the 30 and 35 yarders with the game on the line. He also made his two extra-point attempts.
“He’s a real special kid,” Rodenberg said. “He kicks that way in practice. He’s going to be a really good one. I’ve been telling colleges about him. He’s just got great composure for a sophomore.”
VIEW FROM THE SIDELINES: Rodenberg: “It’s a great victory but it’s one of 10. We’re going to celebrate tonight but it’s one of 10. We know we’ve got another game next week and we’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Specht: “We felt good about our plan coming out of halftime. You win the second half but you’ve got to play a full game. They made plays on their last drive that put them in position for a field goal and we didn’t make plays. It’s that we make a play, they make a play, and they ended up making the last play.”
EXTRA POINTS: Moeller now leads the all-time series 38-17-1….Moeller athletic director Mike Asbeck said the schools pre-sold about 7,700 tickets for the game…. Crable started the game for Moeller in place of senior quarterback Gus Ragland, who was out because of an injury, and he finished 13 of 30 passing for 126 yards. He also had seven carries for 23 yards….Moeller senior running back Jack Gruber ran for a game-high 88 yards on 27 carries….The Crusaders were 4-for-4 on fourth down conversions and finished with 324 yards on offense. St. Xavier had 249 yards of offense….Indiana University head football coach Kevin Wilson was in attendance.