Parma, OHIO- In a game where both offenses combined for over 1,000 total yards, it was the Eagles of St. Edward that would hang on to defeat the Euclid Panthers by a score of 56-35.
After only playing one half last week, St. Edward running back Jordan Castleberry was the spark the team needed to keep their season alive. The senior had 26 carries go for 196 yards and two touchdowns. It didn’t stop there, Castleberry also caught three passes for a team-high 110 yards and another touchdown.
In fact, St. Edward opened up the scoring in Friday night’s game with a 90-yard catch and run from Garrett Dzuro to Castleberry. In a game where St. Edward ran for 375 yards, Garrett Dzuro was just as effective throwing the ball with the running game exceeding expectations. He went on to complete nine on 16 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns.
“We used all of our weapons and we needed them tonight,” head coach Tom Lombardo said. “We wore them down and that was the difference tonight.”
The thing that led St. Edward to open up the game, especially in the second half, was turnovers. The Eagle defense forced five turnovers on the night, none bigger than the one late in the third quarter. The Eagle’s forced a turnover up 35-28 and landed on the ball inside Euclid territory.
A couple plays later, Dzuro ran it in from 15 yards out to open up the game. That touchdown would end up being their second score in the previous 48 seconds of play and St. Edward would head into the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead.
“We needed those turnover tonight,” coach Lombardo said. “I told our guys at this time of the year nothing is going to be easy, it’s a four-quarter game.”
In the first quarter, both offenses nearly combined to put up 400 total yards. The Eagles would open up the game with a 90-yard catch and run from Jordan Castleberry. From there, the Panthers would score two touchdowns to take an early 14-7 lead after the first 12 minutes.
The second quarter was all St. Edward. They would score the first 21 points of the quarter before the Panthers would get on the board following a two-yard touchdown pass from Dion Valentine to Atiba Fitz. The score would read 28-21 favoring St. Edward heading into halftime.
The second half was dominated by St. Edward. They would score two late touchdowns in the closing minutes of the quarter to really give them all the momentum heading into the final 12 minutes of the game.
The scoring did not stop there, on their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Eagle’s controlled the ball for nearly seven minutes, ending in a Dzuro 20-yard touchdown run to ultimately seal the deal.
For Euclid, Brandon Wright led the Panthers in rushing as he ran for 117 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. Dion Valentine completed six of 17 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns during the loss.
The win for the Eagles advances them one step further in the playoffs. With Mentor defeating Canton McKinley 36-6 Friday night, these two teams will face off next week in the Regional finals. It’s a rematch of their week one matchup, where the Cardinals pulled off a 42-39 win at home.
Trust is a big thing within this St. Edward team. Everybody trusts everybody to do their job and they are more than ready for the rematch against Mentor next week.
“We know it’s going to be a dogfight,” Castleberry said. “At the end of the day, you don’t give up no matter what the score is.”