In this week's Cleveland Browns High School Game of the Week in association with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), the St. Ignatius Wildcats (8-2) took on the St. Edwards Eagles (6-3). This heated rivalry was played on the big stage as these young athletes walked through the tunnels and onto the field at FirstEnergy Stadium – home of the Cleveland Browns. Both teams had already punched their ticket to the playoffs before this matchup, so this game was all about bragging rights.
This was the second time that both teams met at FirstEnergy Stadium. The last time these heavyweights fought it out on the big stage was in 2016 when St. Ignatius dominated St. Ed's with a 34-7 victory. St. Ignatius have won three in a row against St. Ed's and they extended that win streak to four after tonight's win. The Wildcats lead the series in this matchup 31-24-1. This ties their longest winning streak against St. Edwards. The last time St. Ignatius won four straight against the Eagles was October 2007 – October 2009.
St. Ignatius knew that they would have to rely on their defense to win the game against St. Edward's explosive offense and the defense came through. Since the Wildcats started their seven game winning streak, they have allowed only 7.57 points of offense to opposing teams; it was a similar story tonight as they only gave up seven points to the Eagles. Senior middle linebacker, Tommy Eichenberg, leads the defense. Eichenberg was flying all over the field making plays for his team. He would finish the contest with 10 tackles and would earn himself the Cleveland Browns High School Game of the Week MVP.
The Wildcats returned the opening kickoff for 73-yards and put them in the red zone quickly. That excitement would be immediately erased as Charles Kirkholder would intercept Patrick Delahunty's pass and return it all the way to the Wildcat's 18-yard line. Senior quarterback, Garrett Dzuro would run the ball in for the Eagles and give them their only lead of the game 7-0.
This would be the only score for some time as the defenses on both teams stepped up. Between both teams there would be 7 consecutive series that ended in a punt. After 14 minutes of play and no scoring, Ignatius finally found the end zone as Jack Walsh ran it in for a 28-yard score to tie the game 7-7. St. Ed's tried to take advantage of the time they still had on the clock before the half, but would come up short. The tenacious defense for the Wildcats would stop the Eagles at the goal line and go into the half tied.
The weather played a huge role throughout the contest as it consistently rained until the clock hit 0:00. Caden Kolesar was a ball hawk for the Eagles as he would get his first take away of the game from a pass by Wildcat's quarterback, Patrick Delahunty. The Eagles would get the ball in the red zone after the interception, but that momentum was short lived as Dzuro would throw an interception on the first play of the drive for the Eagles. The Wildcats returned the ball to the 4-yard line and would have their best field position yet. They took advantage of the turnover as running back, Jahadge Floyd would scamper his way into the end zone. The following extra point would be blocked, but St. Ignatius would have their first lead of the game 13-6.
The Eagles would have a costly turnover on their following drive as wide receiver C.J. Hankins would fumble the ball and give the Wildcats the ball on the 17-yard line. The very next play, John Kennedy would find the edge to get his first touchdown of the game. St. Ignatius' two-point conversion was successful, 21-7 lead St. Ignatius.
The Eagles were down, but not out. They marched the ball down the field and would find themselves in scoring position again as they made it to the 1-yard line. Coach Kyle, St. Ignatius Head Coach, looked to his defense to make a play and they did. The Wildcats shutdown the Eagles fourth down attempt in the red zone for the second time and would close the game out. The final score was 21-7, St. Ignatius over St. Edwards.
Next week both teams look to begin their journey to Canton, OH in the first round of the playoffs.
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