CINCINNATI - It appears that reports of the demise of the 2012 Elder Panthers were greatly exaggerated, as the Panthers kept their post season hopes alive after upsetting their GCL South rival Moeller Crusaders 17-13 at rainy and windy Roettger Memorial Stadium in Lockland on Friday.
“It means a lot for our season, it was a game we had to win,” said Elder (4-3 overall, 1-1 GCL South) head coach Doug Ramsey. “We’re sitting at 4-3 now, but for our playoff aspiration and those kinds of things, it’s a really big win for our program.”
After slow starts on offense on both sides early in the first quarter, Moeller (5-2, 1-2) flipped field position behind a 70-yard punt from Sam Geracithat rolled dead at the Elder two–yard line.
But the Panthers responded with a 19-play, 86-yard drive that chewed up over nine minutes of clock. After the drive stalled, Matt Murray converted on a 28-yard field goal that put Elder up 3-0 with 9:24 left in the second quarter.
“It was big because it was a long drive, and we got a score, but it also ate up the whole quarter , where we were also going into the wind, and the wind was bad tonight,” Ramsey said of Elder’s first scoring drive. “That was the biggest drive for the offense, along with the one here at the end that put us at 17.”
Both teams remaining drives in the half showed promise but did not net anymore scoring and the Panthers headed to the locker room up 3-0.
Elder struck quickly in the third, first taking advantage of Chris Schroer rushing for 20 yards on the first two plays, and then quarterback Josh Moore hitting wide receiver Joe Ramstetter for 42-yards to set up the Panthers at the Moeller 18. Schroer took care of the final 18-yards, and Elder had a 10-0 lead with 10:31 left in the third.
Moeller answered back, almost exclusively on the ground, with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that Keith Watkins capped off with two-yard run that cut the Panther lead to 10-7 with 5:37 left in the third quarter. It wasn’t without some controversy, however. On the play before the touchdown, officials originally ruled that Crusaders’ quarterback Spencer Iacovone fumbled at the two-yard line and Elder recovered, but reversed that decision after huddling together, apparently ruling that Iacovone was down before fumbling.
Neither team could get much going on their next two drives, but the wind and rain played a big part in field position midway through the fourth quarter when Geraci had a punt into the wind that ended up only netting one yard, setting the Panthers up at the Moeller 36. Moore hit Austin Cipriani from eight yards out to cap a seven-play, 36-yard drive to put Elder up 17-7 with 3:11 to go.
Moeller would not go away, as Iacovone led the Crusaders with both his feet and his arm to cut the Panthers’ lead back to one score when he connected with Watkins on a screen pass from six-yards out with 1:37 left in regulation. The extra-point snap was muffed, however, and the Elder lead stayed at 17-13.
After a three and out by Elder that left Moeller with the ball with 0:25 left and no timeouts, Iacovone led the Crusaders from their own 15-yard line to the Panthers’ 30-yard line with two completions, but his desperation attempt as time ran out was deflected at the goal-line and intercepted by Kyle Orloff, and Elder had their win.
Schroer ended the night with 141 yards on 30 carries and one TD, while Moore threw for 108 yards on 10 of 18 passing and a TD.
Iacovone threw for 188 yards with his TD and interception. Watkins, who entered the game averaging 158 yards per game, ended up with 87 yards on 17 carries, his longest run was only for 11 yards.
“Really proud of those guys tonight, we’d been struggling a bit on defense, we’ve been giving up a lot of points,” Ramsey said. “The key was not to give up a lot of big plays…we made them throw the ball a lot more than I think they wanted to.”
Elder will attempt to stay on the winning track next week when they entertain Winton Woods at The Pit, while Moeller travels goes west to take on Indianapolis Cathedral.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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High School Sports
The Moeller High School baseball team added to the illustrious history of the program Sunday afternoon with a commanding 7-1 victory over Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Division I state championship game.