By Doug Chapin
Cardinal Mooney High’s ground attack controlled the game and the Cardinals’ defense came up with two key red zone stops on the way to a 23-6 triumph Friday night over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at Stambaugh Stadium.
Mooney (5-2) finished with 218 yards on 36 carries. On 11 of those runs, Mooney backs gained 10 yards or more.
Charlie Brown led the attack with 114 yards, Carmen Leonelli added 48 and quarterback Kevin McGuire contributed 38. He also completed 5 of 9 passes for 67 yards.
“We’ve done a pretty good job the last few weeks of really getting better each and every week,” Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said. “Our guys have committed themselves to paying attention to detail and working to get better every time they take the field each day at practice and in the games. So we’re progressing and as long as our guys are competing and working to get better each and every day, then that’s where we need to be.”
The Cardinals, who came into the game fourth in the Division III, Region 9 computer standings, one place ahead of St. Vincent-St. Mary, have won three in a row since a two-game losing streak followed by a bye week.
“It [the bye week] really helped us in the matter of catching our breath. We had some people who were banged up at the time that were able to get healthy,” Fecko said. “And we were able to get some continuity back, practice some basics and refocus ourselves for the second part of the season, and so far its been going pretty good.”
Mooney took the opening kickoff and drove 71 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. Brown got things off on the right foot with a 28-yard burst around left end on the first play from scrimmage. McGuire scored the touchdown from 11 yards out with 8:39 on the clock.
On the first play for the Irish (5-3), quarterback Oliver Hildebrandt’s pass was deflected by Mike Rossi and intercepted by fellow defensive lineman Austin Trgovich. That set up the Cardinals at the Irish 23. Leonelli ripped off a 19-yard run and Brown scored two plays later from the 5-yard line with 7:24 on the clock.
The Cardinals used up a good portion of the second-quarter clock with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 34-yard field goal by A.J. Fox for a 16-0 lead.
SVSM then drove from its 20 to the Mooney 8. On third-and-goal, McGuire stepped in front of a Hildebrandt pass in the end zone and intercepted, returning the ball to the Mooney 31.
The Cardinal offense got off to a good start in the second half also, driving 77 yards in nine plays for a third touchdown at the 5:27 mark of the third quarter. McGuire hit Nick Gemma for a 23-yard gain during the drive which culminated in a 4-yard TD run by Clarence Scott.
The Irish responded with their only scoring drive, but used most of the remaining time in the third quarter to get into the end zone. After a Mooney punt, the visitors got rolling again, driving from their 30 to the Cardinal 14.
At that point the Mooney defense came up with its second red zone stop of the night, holding the Irish on downs and taking possession with 5:34 left in the game.
“St. V’s is really a good program,” Fecko said. “Year in and year out they put a great product on the field and one of the reasons they are is they’re pretty sound. They’re sound offensively and defensively, so they were about where we figured they’d be. It was just a matter of executing. We knew they would counter with some stuff and we tried to counter back and fortunately we were able to play good defense and put some points on the board.”