By Tyler Stotsky
MENTOR, OHIO – The Lake Catholic Cougars (3-0) used three strong quarters on all cylinders as they defeated the Youngstown Ursuline Fighting Irish (0-3) 33-14 on Saturday (Sept. 8) night at Jerome T. Osborne Jr. Stadium.
The Cougars struck first three minutes into the contest as Matt Slowey found Andrew Bortz on a 24-yard TD pass, taking a 7-0 lead. Three minutes later, the Cougars had a chance to strike again as Nate Rieple intercepted a pass from Brady Shannon off a tip. Lake Catholic drove downfield but could not convert a 45-yard field goal by Luka Zurak. Lake Catholic’s defense forced a three and out on the next Irish possession. The Cougars held a 7-0 lead after one quarter.
Rieple converted a key fourth-and-one conversion at the start of the second quarter, giving Lake Catholic a first down at the Ursuline 49-yard line. On the next play, Slowey found Christian Demitro down the left sideline wide open for a 49-yard catch and run. The Cougars led 14-0 less than thirty seconds into the second quarter.
When Ursuline was forced to punt on their next drive, a bad snap gave the Cougars key field position in the red zone. The snap went through Matt Ferree’s legs and the Cougars’ took over at the 16-yard line. The Irish held the Cougars to a 28-yard field goal from Zurak. Lake Catholic led 17-0 with seven minutes left in the first half.
On the next Irish drive, Liam Whelen came up with a huge third down sack of Shannon for the Cougars, forcing Ursuline to punt deep in their own territory. A good return by Sean Fitzgerald put the Cougars within the 40-yard line of Ursuline. Slowey found Demitro for two straight completions before Slowey punched it in from eight yards out. Lake Catholic pushed the lead to 24-0 with three minutes left in the half.
Both teams punted on their final drives of the half as the Cougars took a 24-0 lead into the locker room. The Cougars outgained the Irish 244-58 in the first half.
Ursuline was backed up deep in their own red zone as they were punting on their first drive of the second half. Rieple broke the line and blocked the punt from Ferree. The ball went out of the back of the end zone for a Cougars safety two minutes into the half.
Rieple capped the Cougars’ next drive with a ten-yard TD scamper on the sixth play of the drive. Rieple’s touchdown made it 33-0 Cougars with a running clock in effect with 6:48 remaining in the third.
The Fighting Irish drove 87 yards on 11 plays on a nearly seven minute drive as James Phillips punched it in from 14 yards out. Ursuline scored on the second play of the fourth quarter and converted the two-point try, cutting the lead to 33-8. The Irish attempted an onside kick that was recovered by Lake Catholic.
Lake Catholic’s following drive was stalled by the Irish’s pass defense, forcing two key incompletions. On Zurak’s punt, Dante Walker blocked it and recovered the ball at the Cougars’ 29-yard line. Two plays later, Daivon Jones scored on an 18-yard TD run. The Irish trimmed the deficit to 33-14 with 8:54 left.
Both teams came up empty on their next respective drives before Lake Catholic ended the game with a 11 play drive that ate six minutes of clock. The Cougars improved to 3-0 with a 33-14 victory over the Irish.
Lake Catholic finished with 325 total yards in the game, including 217 through the air. Ursuline ended with 157 total yards.
Slowey completed 14 of 17 passes for 217 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also ran for 20 yards and had one touchdown on the ground. Demitro was Slowey’s biggest target as he caught six passes for 105 yards. Rieple was the leading rusher with 32 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Cougars’ head coach Scott O’Donnell was impressed with the way his team came out of the gates. “I liked the way we came out tonight, we came out strong and the kids executed on all three phases. We have some things to clean up going forward though. We have to clean up the penalties and be able to finish drives. We left some drives empty throughout the game.”
Lake Catholic will travel to Cleveland Heights next Friday. Ursuline’s next game will be against Akron Archbishop Hoban on Friday.
Player of the Game: Nate Rieple, 6 carries, 32 yards, one rushing touchdown, one interception and one blocked punt.
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