Sports on Tap Game of the Week
Division 1 Region Quarterfinals
#7 Euclid @ #2 Lakewood St. Edward
Division I is starting out in new terrain, now playing Friday nights instead of their traditional spot on Saturday night. The defending Division I state champion, #2 St. Edward Eagles played host to #7 Euclid, representing the Greater Cleveland Conference in a rematch of last year’s Region 1 semifinal contest won by St. Ed’s 33-0. Euclid, hoping to get on the board first, won the coin toss and elected to receive to get QB Noah Mitchell on the field to lead the Panthers.
Euclid was able to put together a solid drive of 11 plays, getting to the St. Ed’s 23 yard line. Mitchell threw for a total of 58 yards on the drive, but unfortunately, a tipped pass fell into the hands of St. Ed’s Antonio Hills, ending the drive. The Panthers held on defense, even getting a sack on QB Kevin Kramer to force a punt. St. Ed’s held and got the ball back at their own 33 yard line. The Eagles quickly went to work, and drove 67 yards in about 90 seconds capped off by a 14-yard TD pass from Kramer to RB Cole Szelesta, putting the Eagles up 7-0 going into the second quarter.
After another stop by the Eagles defense, Kramer then found WR Kordell Hoover for a 49 yard TD pass with just over 9 minutes left in the second quarter. After trading punts, St. Ed’s Devin Maddox fumbled inside his own 30 yard line, where Euclid took over. Mitchell found WR Jovon Owens for a 27 yard pass on 4th and 13 to keep the drive alive, then scored on the next play on an 8-yard shovel pass from Mitchell to WR Ramone Collins. Jordan Hughes hit her extra point, and the Panthers cut the Eagle lead in half with 4:18 to play in the half. After trading punts again, St. Ed’s started their last possession of the half with just over a minute and a half at their own 22 yard line. Euclid lined up offsides to help give St. Ed’s a first down and three plays later, Kramer found WR Damerisse Freeman streaking past the Euclid secondary for a 48 yard TD pass with 25 seconds left. After Blake Stencil’s extra point, the Eagles went into the half with a 21-7 lead and receiving the ball to start the second half.
The Eagles started the third quarter at their own 26 yard line and took just five plays to ending in a 13 yard TD run by Kramer. Sophomore RB Jordan Castleberry led the charge, rushing three times for 56 yards on the drive. The St. Ed’s defense was stifling in the second half, holding the Panthers to just two possessions in the third quarter with two sacks of Noah Mitchell. Euclid missed a golden opportunity to get in deep in Eagles territory, as Collins could not haul in a Mitchell pass on 3rd and 15. Euclid punted back to St. Ed’s as the quarter ended with the Eagles up 28-7.
St. Ed’s got back into Panther territory on a 32 yard pass from Kramer to Freeman, helping set up a 33 yard FG try by Stencil. Stencil’s kick hit the left upright and bounced into the end zone, but the Panthers were called for a roughing-the-kicker penalty that once again gave the Eagles new life. St. Ed’s quickly converted, as Szelesta scored his second touchdown of the night, a 5-yard plunge to push the lead to 35-7. On Euclid’s next possession, St. Ed’s Tylan Rice intercepted Mitchell and returned the pick to the Euclid 15. Castleberry got the Eagles to the 1 on a 14 yard run, followed by Kramer’s second rushing TD of the night from one yard out, pushing the Ed’s lead to 42-7 with just over nine minutes left in the game. This triggered a running clock, as Ed’s was leading by 30 points in the second half and St. Ed’s successfully began their quest for a third straight Division 1 state championship defeating Euclid 42-7.
Coach Lombardo talked about the play of Kevin Kramer,
“He came back real well, comfortable, poised at home, we had a tough first drive then we got some tempo going, he threw some short passes, crossing routes, and he did a nice job.”
St. Ed’s QB Kevin Kramer 16 of 23 passing for 209 yards and three TDs. He also ran seven times for 52 yards and 2 TDs. Jordan Castleberry had six rushes for 76 yards, leading a three-headed rushing attack that took over in the second half as the Eagles’ offensive line pounded the Panthers on the ground to the tune of 23 rushes for 189 yards, complementing their aerial assault on the Panthers defense in the first half. For the Panthers, QB Noah Mitchell completed 13 of 30 passes for 144 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Euclid ends their season at 7-4. St. Ed’s improves to 8-2 and will face #3 seed and co-champions of the Suburban League National Division, Stow-Munroe Falls, who earlier defeated Canton McKinley 39-10. The Division I Region 1 semifinals will kickoff next Friday at 7:30 at a site to be determined.