By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ursuline High senior quarterback Matt Yarab took the snap, saw his receiver streaking down the left side with two Mooney defenders on his hip and started running right. He was hoping to catch the corner and run for a first down, but Mooney defensive end Taylor Hill was with him step-for-step.
"He tried to stiff-arm me," said Hill, "but I couldn't let it happen.
"I knew we needed this."
Hill grabbed Yarab just in front of the sideline and spun him down. Suddenly, a second-and-2 on Mooney's 17 was turned into a third-and-16 at the 31. And with less than two minutes left and a 10-0 deficit, it was basically the end for the Irish.
Two incompletions later, it was official.
"We never underestimated them," said Hill. "This is a big game, no matter what the records are. We knew they were going to play hard too."
Minutes earlier, Hill had come up with another of the game's big defensive plays, recovering a fumble on the Mooney 37 after a botched hand-off between Yarab and sophomore running back Darrell Mason. It was one of two turnovers for the Irish -- junior defensive back Dan McCarthy had an interception early in the third quarter -- and both occurred in Mooney territory. The Cardinals didn't turn the ball over and preferred to play conservative on offense for most of the second half, letting their defense dictate the outcome.
"The past few games, we've had problems protecting the ball well," said Ursuline coach Dan Reardon. "And we haven't been making enough plays on defense. When you play good teams, that doesn't bode well."
Old fashion football
About 4,000 people bundled up in the Stambaugh Stadium seats Friday to watch a game better suited for the 1960s. Neither team completed a pass -- they were a combined 0-for-11 -- and Mooney even unveiled its famed stacked-I at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
"Well, I guess that goes back to the old saying, 'The only stat that matters is the scoreboard,' " said Mooney coach P.J. Fecko, chuckling. "We were fortunate to be on the positive end of that."
McCarthy misfired on all four of his passes, but carried 17 times for 88 yards for the Cardinals (8-0), who entered the game ranked first in Division IV by the Associated Press and were first in the Region 17 computer ratings.
"They're undefeated for a reason," said Reardon. "They've got good players and they're well-coached. They did what they needed to do."
Zordich has big run
Junior fullback Michael Zordich added 81 yards on 16 carries and had the game's biggest play, a 34-yard touchdown run on Mooney's first offensive possession, bullying through the middle of the line before breaking free to outrun the Irish secondary. Other than a 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, the Irish defense held strong the rest of the way.
"What a really great football team they have," said Fecko. "They've proven it each and every week. They're just a team that's been on the unfortunate side of some bad breaks."
Mason had 18 carries for 102 yards for the Irish (4-5), who were eliminated from the playoff race. Yarab was 0-for-7 through the air and had nine carries for 41 yards.
It was the fifth straight win in the rivalry for the Cardinals, who lead the series, 34-15-3.
"We know a lot of the guys on their team," said Hill. "It feels really good to win."