Four Ursuline turnovers were costly in the loss.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
LAKEWOOD -- Ursuline High's first-year football coach, Dan Murphy, will see better days this season.
He won't see many better teams.
Lakewood St. Edward spoiled Murphy's head coaching debut, forcing four Irish turnovers en route to a 31-12 victory Saturday night at Lakewood Stadium.
"We want our program to get to the point where we're the best in any division," Murphy said. "To do that, you have to play the best. That was one of the reasons for this game."
St. Edward senior quarterback Shaun Carney was outstanding, hitting 12 of 19 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown and rushing 14 times for 57 yards and three touchdowns.
"I think he's a great player," Murphy said of Carney. "He's a competitor. He doesn't give up."
Eyes state title run
St. Edward is one of the early front-runners for the Division I state title. The Eagles went 11-0 last season before losing to Warren Harding in the regional semifinal. Harding running back Maurice Clarett rushed for 400 yards and five touchdowns in that game.
The Eagles have 10 of 11 starters back on defense and seven on offense, including Carney. Junior wideout Scott Madden was Carney's favorite target on Saturday, catching three passes for 98 yards.
Ursuline fell behind 14-0 in the opening five minutes, but were in the game until the fourth quarter.
The Irish got solid games from their two tailbacks, Terrence Graves and Delbert Ferguson. Ferguson finished with 13 carries for 102 yards. Graves added 57 yards on 10 carries.
But Ursuline watched four drives stall from turnovers, which proved too much to overcome.
"Turnovers definitely hurt us," Murphy said. "We tried to get things going, but they took some of our momentum. We did some good things, just not enough."
St. Edward scored first, going 81 yards in seven plays, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Carney two minutes into the game.
Minutes later, the Irish dug themselves into their first hole.
On Ursuline's second offensive play, Irish quarterback Daryll Clark fumbled at his own 26 and St. Edward senior Kevin Quinn scooped it up and advanced it to the Irish 4. Three plays later, Carney found senior receiver Jona Sikora for a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with 8:40 left in the first quarter.
On Ursuline's second drive, Clark was intercepted by Brian Pierce at the Irish 41. The Eagles drove the ball to Ursuline's 14, but turned the ball over on downs after a failed fake field goal attempt on fourth down.
Ursuline took over at its own 14 and drove 86 yards in eight plays, highlighted by a 48-yard run by junior Delbert Ferguson on the drive's first play. Clark scored on a quarterback keeper from 2 yards out, but the extra point attempt sailed wide right.
The Irish defense came up big in the last minute of the first half. The Eagles had a first and goal at the 3, but Ursuline held them to a 20-yard field goal by Brian Pierce.
St. Edward scored 14 points in the second half, the second touchdown with 10:06 left on a 1-yard run by Carney, to essentially put the game away.
Clark finished 11 of 19 for 152 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Senior tight end Louis Irizarry had four catches for 86 yards. Senior wideout Isaiah Poindexter added four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
The game didn't go as planned, but Murphy now has one game under his belt. Not that he needed it.
"I really wasn't nervous; I think I was more excited," he said. "Our coaches did a good job preparing. We just played a good team."