Oct 14, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Make that 18 wins in a row for the Bishop Ludden football team — and also make that back-to-back Class C West division regular-season championships.
Moving to 6-0 on the season, the Gaelic Knights used a first-quarter onslaught to pull away early in last Friday’s game at Jordan-Elbridge, on its way to a 42-0 victory over the Eagles, its 18th win in a row dating back to the second week of the 2007 season.
All season long, Ludden has held the top spot in the state Class C rankings. That, plus the status of defending state champions, guarantees that any opponent will come in and bring its best possible effort.
The distinct difference, in this case, is that the Gaelic Knights are quite aware of that fact, too. Despite its lofty status, Ludden has not let anyone in the Class C West division get close to them, outscoring five league foes 214-69 with its heady mix of big plays on offense and steady, solid defense.
J-E, like other Ludden opponents, came in with the right intentions and a burning desire to spring an upset. But it also didn’t have leading rusher Mitch Merrill in the lineup, a crippling blow, since Merrill had gained 786 yards in five games, including 234 against LaFayette the week before.
Without Merrill, all the Eagles could manage was 124 yards of total offense, far from enough. Alex Fletcher tried 12 passes, completing four of them for 38 yards, while Nick Berwind had 10 carries for 40 yards.
Meanwhile, Ludden pounced — and by the time the first 12 minutes were done, though, those notions had melted away.
On its opening possession, the Gaelic Knights drove to the Eagles’ 37-yard line, then saw junior quarterback John Rooney throw deep and find Mark DeAngelis in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
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.