By Tim Corso
ALLIANCE OH- Ursuline held off a late comeback attempt from Villa Angela-St. Joseph Friday night 27-20.
Going into the Regional Semifinal matchup from Marlington, the talk from the Irish sideline was the absence of Senior tailback Christian Lynch.
It was a highly anticipated second matchup between Lynch and Vikings’ standout back, Bo Jackson.
The first meeting in Week 8 didn’t disappoint as each back found the endzone in Ursuline’s 38-18 win.
However, it was Joe Balog that stepped into the starting role alongside Jack Ericson, and he didn’t disappoint.
Balog put the lone first half points on the board from 14 yards out to give Ursuline the lead 6-0 early.
He accumulated nearly 150 yards on the ground to lead the Irish backfield.
The third quarter was the one that determined this game in the end.
Coach Reardon’s squad posted three touchdowns, including a school record, 98-yard touchdown from pass from Ericson to Devonte Taylor.
Ericson also tossed a score to John Frangos, while Ty’ReqDonlow ran in the final score from 11 yards out.
The biggest threat to the 27-0 lead that Ursuline held in the fourth was Kylan Steuball and the Vikings.
Steuball led not one, not two, but three fourth quarter scoring drives to nearly bring Villa all the way back to tie the game. That included a 99-yard touchdown pass to Brian Kortovich.
The story in the key moments was the Irish stout defense. Both Balog and Jy’Quise Liason picked off the Villa signal caller.
At that point, the Villa comeback attempt was too little, too late.
The last gasp of hope was following the third Viking touchdown, when Ursuline’s offense was in 4th and 1 in opponent’s territory.
With the game on the line, Ericson decided to call his own number and ran for the first down to ice the game.
From that point, they ran the clock out and advanced to the Regional Final.
Ursuline (13-0) will play Chardon (10-3) for a Regional Championship next Friday, November 17th at a site TBD.