By James Adams
LOCKLAND, Ohio – Moeller won an ugly game on an ugly night over Louisville St. Xavier at Roettger Stadium’s Grein Field on Friday.
But while the Crusaders left with a 24-12 win, two of their biggest players on offense were noticeably missing in the second half.
Senior center Schuyler Hahn left the game apparently shaken up and did not return. He and senior quarterback Gus Ragland have been playing together for twelve years, and the loss of his trusted snapper was apparent in the wet weather for Ragland.
Moeller was also without senior running back Dean Meyer in the second half. Meyer had four touches for 40 yards early in the game, but on his last play Meyer fumbled the football at the end of a 13-yard run.
On several occasions, Moeller (4-0) had trouble with the shotgun snap in the second half, and just when it appeared the Crusaders had the game wrapped up, a shotgun snap sailed past Ragland and Moeller turned the ball over deep in its own territory.
St. Xavier (3-2) tried to rally late, as it had the ball in the red zone with four minutes to play, but the Crusaders’ defense halted the Tigers’ drive by stuffing a fourth down play.
“When we had our backs against the wall it was time to step up and see who was going to be a playmaker and put the team on their back,” said senior defensive lineman Chalmer Frueauf.
After another hold by the Moeller defense, senior Jack Gruber returned a punt 45 yards to the Tigers 7 yard line and stayed in the game at running back. Gruber remained in the backfield for the Crusaders, carrying the ball 14 times for 112 yards and adding three catches for 21 yards.
St. Xavier also had trouble holding onto the football, and while the Tigers only lost one of their three fumbles, it was a few big penalties and the lack of third-down conversions that were their undoing.
On a long completion moving the ball inside the 10 yard line, the Tigers were flagged for offensive pass interference, moving the ball back to their side of the fifty. Another holding penalty nullified a first down, something St. Xavier only had 12 of.
Somehow Tigers senior running back Charles Walker carried the ball 30 times for 248 yards, yet St. Xavier only converted two of its 14 third down conversion tries.
Those lack of conversions led to two field goals by senior kicker Jake Collins (27 and 23 yards) in the first half that kept the Tigers in the game.
Crusaders sophomore kicker Matthew Coghlin added a huge field goal of his own, booting a 44-yarder as time expired in the first half to give Moeller a 10-6 lead and all of the momentum.
“Coach (John) Rodenberg’s focus is to get better each week, so tomorrow morning we’ll look at the film, get better and go to lifting,” said Chalmer Frueauf. “And then come Monday we’re getting ready for St. X.”
The Crusaders start their GCL South schedule next week as they host the St. Xavier Bombers (3-1) at Nippert Stadium.
The Tigers go back to Louisville, but stay on the road as they visit Louisville Central (3-2) next week. - See more at: http://tristatefootball.com/articles.asp?articleid=5164#sthash.XtbrLiNY.dpuf