FB: D6 #2 St. Edward upsets #1 St. Ignatius, 20-13, in season finale
October 30, 2012Ohio Preps Authority
By Eddie Dwyer
St. Ignatius High School
PARMA – During all of the hoopla leading up to the 50th meeting between Cleveland westside rivals Saint Ignatius and St. Edward, Wildcats coach Chuck Kyle ’69 emphasized that the Eagles are a “big-play team” on offense, defense, and with special teams.
As far as St. Edward’s faithful are concerned, truer words were never spoken.
The Eagles, ranked second to Saint Ignatius in the Associated Press Division I state poll, pulled off a flea-flicker touchdown pass Oct. 27 and then rode a blocked punt that led to seven more points in rallying past the Wildcats in the fourth quarter, 20-13, in front of a standing-room crowd of 13,227 at Byers Field.
CHECK OUT THE PHOTO GALLERY FROM ED WOLFF!!
St. Edward (10-0), which entered the game with the top seeding for the Division I Region 1 playoffs next weekend, maintains that status and will face eighth-seeded Mayfield (6-4) in a regional quarterfinal playoff game Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in Lakewood Stadium. That matchup will feature a reunion between Mayfield veteran coach Larry Pinto and his old defensive coordinator, Eagles coach Rick Finotti.
Saint Ignatius (9-1), winner of a record 11 big-school state championships including last season’s “Eleven in ’11” effort, is the second seed in Region 1 and will face Austintown Fitch (9-1), the seventh seed, in Saturday’s regional quarterfinal at Byers Field. That kickoff also will be at 7 p.m.
Saint Ignatius and Austintown Fitch are 1-1 in playoff encounters, with Fitch snapping the Wildcats’ 39-game winning streak, 33-28, in a first-round game in 1990 and Saint Ignatius dominating the Falcons, 31-7, in a state semifinal matchup in 1992.
“Our goal is still intact,” coach Kyle to his team after Saturday’s setback to the Eagles, which now has Saint Ignatius leading the all-time series 27-22-1 including the identical-score 20-17 regular-season and playoff victories over St. Edward last year. “It’s a game that could have gone either way – that’s the way they have been.
“This time, we made some mistakes and gave them field position, and you can’t do that. So there’s things to work on. Give them credit – they played a nice ballgame. We had the lead (13-6 entering the fourth quarter), but then a couple of mistakes were made and look out.”
Although they led 10-3 after senior quarterback Mike LaManna hooked up with senior wide receiver Conor Hennessey on a 14-yard touchdown pass and junior kicker Matt Colella capped the 80-yard drive on an extra point with 9:02 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats did not take advantage of other field-position opportunities in the early going.
After St. Edward shanked a punt, Saint Ignatius appeared to be sitting pretty at the Eagles’ 30-yard yard line with a 3-0 lead. On the very next play, however, St. Edward junior defensive back Pat Riley made a textbook interception on a deep ball – an effort that lead to the tying field goal of 23 yards by Eagles senior kicker Taylor Marsillio early in the second quarter.
St. Edward cut the deficit to 10-6 on a 28-yard field goal by Marsillio with 2:28 left in the first half, and the teams had a turnover exchange early in the third quarter.
Wildcats senior tailback Tim McVey, who finished with 192 rushing on 32 carries, keyed a drive that resulted in Colella’s second field goal of the night – a 29-yard blast with 28 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The highlights of the final period belonged to St. Edward, however, as its gritty and gifted senior quarterback Ryan Fallon fired a 33-yard flea-flicker TD pass to senior wideout Anthony Young. The ensuing extra point by Marsillio knotted the score at 13 with 10:09 remaining in the game.
Fallon, whose Houdini-like athleticism with his arms and legs was a major factor, completed 16 of 31 passes for 191 yards. The flea-flicker saw him hand the ball off to senior tailback Dwayne Aaron, who turned and lateraled it back to him.
After Saint Ignatius was unable to turn a leaping interception by senior free safety Bryan Fisher into points, the difference maker came courtesy of the Eagles’ special teams.
When the snap from center rolled on the ground, senior Connor King came crashing through to block a punt. The ball was recovered by senior Kenny Butler at the Saint Ignatius 20.
On 3rd and goal from the Wildcats’ 4, Fallon dropped back and fired a pass to the left corner of the end zone where sophomore wide receiver David Dowell made a nice play on the ball for the touchdown with 4:02 left.
Saint Ignatius had one last shot on a drive that started on its 22, but it came to an end at the Eagles’ 8 with 58 seconds remaining.
“We’re going to be practicing on Monday – we know who we’re playing, and we’ll correct some mistakes,” said coach Kyle, whose team’s 15-game winning streak came to an end. It was a mark that dated back to last season’s Week 10 victory over St. Edward.
Saint Ignatius will be making its 24th OHSAA playoff appearance under Kyle, who is 299-68-1 in his 30th season as his alma mater's head coach.