It was Harding's worst loss under Thom McDaniels, who took over in 2000.
By JOHN BUTERA
BEDFORD -- The Warren Harding High football team picked up its fifth win of the season this week, but it didn't come on Saturday.
Two days after gaining a forfeit win from Lakewood St. Edward, the Raiders were routed by state powerhouse Cleveland St. Ignatius 56-0 at Bedford Stadium.
The Wildcats (6-1), ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press poll, took a 49-0 lead at halftime en route to their first win over Harding since the 2001 regional final.
"I did not expect this at all," said Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle. "It was a surprise. We wanted to get out of the gate well, but I didn't in any way think we could keep it going like that."
It was Harding's worst loss under coach Thom McDaniels, who took over in 2000.
"I've never been on the receiving end of anything like this," said McDaniels, who previously coached at Canton McKinley. "And I sure can't blame the kids for a lack of effort."
St. Ignatius scored on all of its offensive possessions in the first half to build a 49-0 lead. But it was the Wildcats' defense that got things started.
Just 47 seconds into the game, Ignatius' Robert McConville sacked Harding quarterback Roger Matlock, forcing Matlock to fumble deep in his own territory. Wildcat defender John Ryan scooped up the fumble and ran three yards to make it 7-0.
Andrew Stankus then ran for a 34-yard touchdown and junior quarterback Rudy Kirbus -- who is drawing attention from Ohio State coach Jim Tressel -- added a 42-yard touchdown pass to Chris Rigo, giving the Wildcats a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Wildcats had 177 yards of offense in the first quarter and an 8-1 edge in first downs.
"Our goal all week was to get good field position and we got that all night," said Kyle. "Then this thing just sort of snowballed and Harding had to start gambling early.
"Once we got off to that pretty good start, we just seemed to get on a roll."
Kirbus added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, finding tight end Collin Meador for a 9-yard TD and Robby Parris for a 59-yarder. Stankus had a 7-yard run and backup running back Nick Secue added a 51-yard TD run late in the first half.
St. Ignatius finished with 460 yards -- 255 rushing and 205 passing -- and did not punt until 1:53 of the third quarter.
"Losing is an adverse situation and we haven't had a lot of experience with that," said McDaniels.
The Raiders entered the game coming off losses to Ursuline and St. Edward, although they have known for two weeks the St. Edward loss would likely not count in the standings.
"We expected that to happen and it did happen, so that didn't affect us one way or the other," said McDaniels of the added win. "It was the best week of practice we've had in the last three weeks."