Moments later, J-E coughed up the ball on its own 34-yard line, and Ludden's Nate Steward returned it for a second TD to make it 14-0 before many Eagle fans had settled into their seats.
Once again, the Eagles gave up possession. Once again, Ludden scored in response, a march to the five-yard line before Omar Osbourne took it home for his 13th touchdown of the season.
Set up close yet again as the first-quarter clock wound down, the Gaelic Knights completed its task when Rooney hooked up a second time with DeAngelis, this time a 15-yard TD pass.
So as the second quarter got underway, J-E had to deal with the harsh reality of a 28-0 deficit. It would spend the rest of the game in a futile attempt to get on the board, the loss of Merrill far too much to overcome.
But the Eagles' defense did play better in the late stages. Clint Daniels had 15 tackles, seven of them solo efforts, as Berwind added five solo tackles. Both Bill Tyrell and Bryan Murray recorded sacks of Rooney.
Ludden still had too much, though, as Rooney found DeAngelis a third time for a TD in the second quarter, on a 51-yard play. Osbourne would add a second touchdown (14th of the season) for the only points of the second half. Chris Davis made all six of his extra-point attempts.
To finish a perfect regular season, Ludden needs to beat Hannibal (4-2) Friday at 7 p.m. With a 4-1 league mark (4-2 overall) after last Saturday's 50-24 win over LaFayette, the Warriors need to upset Ludden, then have second-place Cato-Meridian lose to LaFayette on Saturday to make the Class C playoffs.
As for J-E, it will go to Port Byron Saturday at 1 p.m. The Panthers, like the Eagles, are 1-5, and are also coming off a shutout loss -- 26-0 to Tully.