By Tim Corso
Ursuline topped Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Friday night in the battle of the Irish, 34-20.
It was Youngstown versus Akron, Reardon and Cistone, Ursuline and St.Vs.
Defense was the story early in the ballgame as Ursuline set the tone early with a redzone takeaway when D.C. Ferrell picked off Sophomore quarterback Rylan Hurley in the endzone.
Ursuline’s offense continued to sputter on its’ next drive, but the defense stood tall again, this time forcing a turnover-on-downs in their territory. The ensuing Irish drive found Ursuline converting on a 3rd and 16 when Jack Ericson connected with Devonte Taylor on a 20-yard touchdown strike to give them a 7-0 lead.
Defense continued to be a story as late in the first half, being backed up on its’ own 4-yard line, Ericson fired a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted for a touchdown by St. Vincent’s Daveion Wright in the final minute of the first half.
What looked like a 7-0 Ursuline lead at halftime, turned into a stalemate with two quarters down.
Whatever Dan Reardon said at halftime worked and worked well. Reardon’s squad forced a three-and-out to start the second half then jumped back in front when Ericson connected with Taylor for a second time, this time from 50 yards out.
Ursuline would extend the lead on their next drive when a quick screen pass resulted in Ferrell breaking multiple tackles to find himself with a 28-yard score.
Ericson threw three touchdowns in the win and racked his total up to 15 strikes on the year.
However, St. Vincent-St. Mary wouldn’t go away.
Trading punches, Hurley scampered for a 16-yard touchdown to answer. But Jy’Quise Liason responded to it with a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown; his second in as many weeks.
Right then, it appeared an electric second half was on tap.
Akron’s Sir Charles Gordon broke several Ursuline tackles just a couple of plays later that resulted in a 69-yard touchdown. Those scores in a matter of two minutes put the score at 27-20 right before the third quarter ended.
Ursuline finished the game with four forced turnovers, with the last two being the biggest.
The first came when Akron was driving and had the ball at Ursuline’s 9-yard line. It appeared that another stalemate was on the way when Tairan Davis intercepted Hurley in the endzone and returned 91 yards to the Akron 14-yard line. The next play, Christian Lynch gave his squad some insurance with a touchdown to make it 34-20.
The second big turnover was a clutch interception by Liason with under five minutes to, for all intents and purposes, “call game”.
At that point, all John DeSantis’ offense had to do was run the clock out and celebrate the first Ursuline win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary since October 28, 2011. Snapping the 10-game losing streak to Akron gave Ursuline its’ first 7-0 start since 2010.
Ursuline (7-0) will host Villa Angela-St. Joseph (5-2) next Friday night, October 6th at Stambaugh Stadium.