One-hand it to Cameron Specht for St. Xavier's 14-6 win over Elder

Defense keeps Panthers out of the end zone

CINCINNATI - Cameron Specht may not have made two bigger catches in a game than the two touchdown passes he hauled in Friday night.

“Probably not, especially with what was on the line,” Specht said.

Specht’s touchdowns enabled St. Xavier to beat Greater Catholic League South rival Elder, 14-6, on Tom Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium. The win advanced the Bombers’ record to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the GCL South, just a win over La Salle next week away from an outright GCL South title.

“We have a chance to win a GCL title outright and that’s something we didn’t do last year,” Specht said. “We were state champions, but not GCL champions. So, I just wanted to get the ball into the end zone for us so we can become GCL champions next week against La Salle.”

PHOTO GALLERY: St. Xavier 14, Elder 6

Specht’s first score was a one-handed grab of a 5-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone that St. X senior quarterback Chase Wolf thought might have been a throw-away pass.

“I saw the safety. He came down with the slant, and I knew Cam was probably open,” Wolf said. “He wasn’t really open, so I just threw it outside, possibly out of bounds, and then he just made a spectacular play.”

Specht had a pretty good idea that he would get the ball on the play because of where the Bombers were on the field.

“I saw it coming and I knew it was high,” Specht said. “I just had to make a play on the ball. Fortunately, I stuck my hand up there and clawed it in.”

Using one hand was mostly instinct.

“I was going to go up with two hands, but I saw it was outside my body,” Specht said. “So, I just pulled away with one hand and came down with it.”

Wolf had the perfect vantage point to see Specht come down with the ball.

“And then I saw the Elder fans sit down,” Wolf said. “It was the best catch I’ve seen all year.”

The crowd-stirring catch capped an 11-play, 63-yard game-opening drive for a 7-0 lead with 7:34 to play in the first quarter. At that point,  it looked as if the Bombers were on their way to another romp over the Panthers after winning at Elder last season, 31-7.

But the Bombers offense stalled much of the rest of the first half. Elder settled for a 21-yard field goal by sophomore Sam Harmeyer with 9:33 to play in the second quarter, and Harmeyer added a 32-yarder with 21 seconds remaining in the second for a 7-6 halftime lead for St. X.

St. X senior Donny Stock missed a 34-yard field goal early in the third quarter, but Specht got the Bombers on the board again when he leaned backward over the goal line with the ball for an 8-yard touchdown reception with 3:16 to play in the third.

“That’s not something I normally do,” Specht said. “I felt when I rolled that he was on my back. I think it was just out of instinct. I reached over and then looked at the ref and he signaled touchdown.”

It was the kind of second effort his dad, St. Xavier coach Steve Specht, demanded at halftime.

“At halftime, Coach Specht challenged us,” Cameron Specht said. “We’ve got to give more effort. We have to finish. I caught the ball at the 5 and I knew I just had to get into the end zone. It’s not about being tackled inside the 5. It was for my team. I had to give the best I could for my team … I had to get into the end zone.”

Cameron Specht finished with seven catches for 45 yards. For the season, he has made a team-best 41 catches for 299 yards and   three scores.

“He might not have the numbers everybody is looking for,” Steve Specht said. “He’s not the 6-foot-2 wide receiver who runs a 4.4. He just makes plays. That’s what he does and he has done his whole life. God love him, Chase put him in a position to succeed.”

Cameron Specht’s three touchdowns this season equaled the three he scored last season as the Bombers marched to a Division I state title. He scored the game-tying touchdown in a comeback win over Sycamore in the Region 4 final and added another the next week against Pickerington Central in a state semifinal after scoring one during the regular-season win at Elder.

“I’ve seen him score some touchdowns in the playoffs to help us win a state championship, but that performance tonight was outstanding,” Wolf said. “That guy’s a beast. He fought every single play.”

Elder outgained the Bombers 313-197, but could not cross the goal line. Besides taking the two first-half field goal,  junior quarterback Michael Bittner threw an interception in the end zone with 38 seconds to play in the third. The Bombers stopped Elder on fourth down twice late in the fourth quarter — first at the Bombers 10 with 5:20 to play and finally at the St. X 6 with 41 seconds  left.

“That’s what GCL football is all about,” Steve Specht said. “It doesn’t matter what the records are. It doesn’t matter what happened last year. It doesn’t matter. It’s going to be hard fought, it’s going to be a battle and that’s what tonight was.”

Friday’s game completed Elder’s three-week swing through the top three teams in the Associated Press Division I state poll. The Panthers lost at No. 3 St. Edward, 40-7,  on Sept. 16, and at home 30-28 last week to No. 1 St. Ignatius. St. X was No. 2 in the latest state poll.

“Elder has played a grueling schedule,” Steve Specht said. “You go to (St.) Ed’s and then Ignatius and into the GCL, that’s brutal. But their kids fight. You saw how much improvement they made from Ed’s to last week and then you watch tonight. They’re tough, hard-nosed kids who leave it all on the line.”

Wolf completed 17 of 29 passes for 149 yards.

Bittner was 13-for-28 for 167 yards and an interception while playing most of the second half in place of senior quarterback Danny Nieman, who came out with an injury in the third quarter.

Elder still leads the all-time series 50-42-6. St. X was the first home team to win in the series since the Bombers’ 21-6 win in 2011.

Elder          0 6 0 0—6

St. Xavier  7 0 7 0—14

SX-C. Specht 5 pass from Wolf (Stock kick)

E-Harmeyer FG 21

E-Harmeyer FG 32

SX-C. Specht 8 pass from Wolf (Stock kick)

Records: St. Xavier 6-0, 2-0 GCL South; Elder 3-3, 0-1.

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