SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio -- Elder outlasted the St. Xavier Bombers in double overtime Friday night, pulling off a 24-17 win on Tom Ballaban Field.
The Elder (5-1) defense had given up 23.6 points per game in the first five weeks; however, they came up huge, holding St. Xavier (4-2) to just 242 yards of offense in the game and 10 points in regulation.
“People disrespected our defense in the summer and throughout the first five games, and this was a statement game for us,” Elder senior defensive lineman Joe Schroer said. “We had to come out and prove how good we are. We have starters with years of experience all over, and hopefully we can carry it forward for the rest of the season.”
On the game’s final play, the Panthers’ defense made its biggest stop when junior linebacker Lucas Downey ripped the ball free as the Bombers were fighting for extra yardage. Elder defenders piled on the loose ball, coming out with the pigskin and the victory.
“Once we scored in the second overtime, we knew how we played all game, and we had to step up and make plays, and obviously we did with a great strip and fumble. It was an all-around great defensive play,” Schroer said.
The Panthers almost didn’t make it to the second overtime as they opted to go for two points and the win in the first overtime down 17-16.
On the two-point try, Elder ran senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey around left end. With nowhere to go, Ramsey reversed field while avoiding several tacklers before finally finding senior wide receiver Nick Hall in the end zone. The play was nullified by a penalty that forced the Panthers to kick a 39-yard extra point that senior kicker Joe Onorato converted to force another overtime.
“I knew if I got tackled, the game was over, so if I had to run all the way back to midfield, I was going to do it to try and make a play,” Ramsey said. “Luckily we had somebody in the end zone, and if we got a penalty, who cares? We made that clutch P.A.T.”
Ramsey connected with Hall for an 8-yard touchdown in the second overtime for the game’s final score.
“We have trust -- he’s my go-to guy, and he was there, and he made a play for me,” Ramsey said.
The Panthers’ defense was strong enough to win the game in regulation: The lone St. Xavier touchdown came after an Elder turnover on downs at their own 1-yard line when punter Lucas Downey was ruled down, as his knee hit the ground fielding a low snap.
It still took the Bombers two tries to score from the 1-yard line, and the Panthers held them to just 4-14 on third and fourth down attempts.
St. Xavier’s defense was certainly up to the task too, holding Elder to 10 points in regulation while the Panthers were averaging over 40 points a game in their first five encounters.
“They’re very well coached. They made plays and made adjustments. Luckily our defense stepped up and got us into overtime,” Ramsey said.
Next Friday, Elder hosts Moeller (2-4) at The Pit; the Crusaders are coming off an overtime loss to LaSalle 13-7. St. Xavier will wrap up their GCL South season next Friday as they host LaSalle (6-0).