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St. Edward defeats Archbishop Moeller in a showdown between Ohio powerhouses

Sophomore running back Brandon White ran for 262 yards and two touchdowns for St. Edward

LAKEWOOD, Ohio – It felt like a high school football playoff game on Saturday afternoon at First Federal Lakewood Stadium when St. Edward and Archbishop Moeller battled each other in a game won by St. Edward 28-21.

It wasn’t just because the game was between two of the best teams in Ohio - St. Edward entered the game ranked No. 5 in the latest SBLive Ohio Power 25, while Moeller was ranked No. 12 – but also because the weather in Ohio finally started to change and the day was filled with wind and rain along with colder temperatures.

And with the change in weather, it means only one thing for some teams.

“That's where the run game in Northeast Ohio kicks in,” St. Edward head coach Tom Lombardo said. “And that's what we pride ourselves on.”

With that in mind, sophomore running back Brandon White picked a great day to have his breakout game. White, standing at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, carried the ball 32 times for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Eagles.

“We knew he always had great vision and cutting ability in the hole,” Lombardo said. “Then he has some burst when he gets to the secondary and that’s big.”

After a scoreless first quarter, St. Edward took a 7-0 lead on a 22-yard touchdown run by White. 

And then Jon Slaper scored from one yard out and Casey Bullock threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Groudle to make it 21-0 at halftime.

The pass from Bullock to Groudle was set up by the run game of the Eagles and came on a play action fake, which allowed Groudle to get wide open.

Bullock threw for 92 yards and ran for 48 more.

Moeller scored on an 82-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ponatoski to Matthew Fogler with 1:30 left in the third quarter, but the Eagles answered on a 25-yard touchdown run by White in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

St. Edward running back Brandon White scores a touchdown against River Rouge (Michigan) on Saturday, September 23, 2023. (Photo: Jeff Harwell)

St. Edward running back Brandon White scores a touchdown against River Rouge (Michigan) on Saturday, September 23, 2023. (Photo: Jeff Harwell)

Ponatoski then hit Jovan Love for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make it 28-21.

Moeller got the ball back with just 12 seconds remaining and had one last chance at the end zone, but Ponatoski’s pass was knocked down with no time left on the clock.

Ponatoski finished the game 16-of-36 for 368 yards passing and three touchdowns with three interceptions, two of those by Xavier Styles.

“You have to play all for four quarters at this level,” Lombardo said. “That's a hard team, they have been playing well. I thought we defended the run really well and the pass early and then in the end the pass was kind of getting us.”

Moeller running back Jordan Marshall had 18 carries for 111 yards before getting injured in the final minute of the second quarter. He missed the second half. He was on crutches with a walking boot after the game but was optimistic he will be fine.

After a slow start in the first quarter, St. Edward switched up their offensive gameplan in the second quarter with a two-back package and it worked, as the Eagles went 94 yards and took a lead on White’s first touchdown.

“I saw a lot of big holes,” White said. “Our whole O-line (blocked) and we ran a lot of two-back this game and (the other backs) had great blocks and got me the holes to let me do what I did today.”

White has been getting more and more opportunities as this season progresses and the more touches he gets, the more confidence he has.

“It feels better and gets you into more of a groove,” White said.

Despite getting hit hard on several runs, White said it didn’t faze him. And that’s mostly because of the players he has on defense on his own team.

“I’m used to it,” White said. “I go against the best defense in practice.”

As for his coach? He couldn’t believe his ears when told White’s stats after the game.

“He had 260 yards rushing?” Lombardo asked. “That puts a smile on my face.”

-- Ryan Isley | | @sbliveoh