VASJ tops Mooney 47-21

Correspondent photo / Michael G. Taylor Cardinal Mooney’s Carlos Gomez takes off for a 70-yard catch-and-run play during Mooney’s loss to Villa Angela-St. Joseph on Friday at Youngstown State’s Stambuagh Stadium.

YOUNGSTOWN — On a night when one of Youngstown’s finest high school football teams was honored, Villa Angela-St. Joseph’s Amani Powell put on a show.

Powell, a 5-foot-7, 145-pound senior, rushed for 258 yards and scored four touchdowns (one via receiving) to lead the Vikings (2-0) to a 47-21 victory over Cardinal Mooney in misty Stambaugh Stadium on Friday night.

At halftime, Cardinal Mooney honored its 1973 team that won the Class AAA state championship, the first playoff era crown earned by a Mahoning County school. One of the stars of that team, Ted Bell, who was the Ohio Back of the Year, was in attendance.

VASJ’s Powell did his best to emulate the great Bell. He accounted for 318 all-purpose yards in three quarters. Powell didn’t touch the ball in the fourth quarter, which was partially played with a running clock.

“We’ve got a stable of backs,” said VASJ coach Jeff Rotsky. “We were hoping to establish the run.”

That may turn out to be the understatement of the season. The Vikings finished with 486 yards on the ground (a dropped punt snap and two kneel downs accounted for minus-18 yards) and, in addition to Powell, Lamar “Bo” Jackson ran like his namesake, gaining 129 yards on 13 carries. He scored twice, once on the ground and also through the air.

“They got us on our heels,” said Mooney (1-1) coach Carl Pelini. “We played a good offense last week [Mentor Lake Catholic, a 29-26 win] that spread the field and we played pretty well. This team ran it down our throat.”

All of that success rushing set up VASJ’s play-action passing game nicely. Quarterback Kylan Steuball completed 7-of-10 passes for 202 yards. The two big plays were touchdowns, 74 yards to Jackson and 60 to Powell. But all seven completions went to different receivers.

All told, the Vikings finished with 688 total yards.

“We have to be more physical,” said Pelini. “The kids played hard but, and I have to watch the film, there wasn’t one area that we played particularly well. And that’s on me.

“We’re going to go back to work, get things fixed, maybe have to move some guys around.”

Offensively, the Cardinals could never sustain a consistent rushing attack, and quarterback Ashton O’Brien did his best to rally the troops, completing 10 of 23 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns.

“We had a great defensive game plan,” said Rotsky. “They are a tremendous inside zone team and our goal was to get them in third and long as much as possible.

“We deferred our choice [at the coin toss] to the second half because I wanted our defense on the field first and set the tone for the game. They did it and made me look like a genius.”

Noah Thomas led Mooney with 61 yards rushing on 13 carries and he scored a touchdown in the second half.

Carlos Gomez caught two passes for 116 yards, including a 70-yard score in the second quarter. Cam Paige had four receptions for 58 yards.

“That guy [O’Brien] was Houdini last week,” said Rotsky. “He should have been sacked eight times. We told our guys to keep him on their inside tonight and I thought for the most part we did a good job. He’s really good, though, and he made plays.”

VASJ had 12 offensive positions – two ended each half and three ended when the Vikings were stopped on fourth down. The other seven resulted in touchdowns.

Mooney trailed 34-7 at halftime, but stopped the Vikings on downs to start the third period. The Cardinals then drove 75 yards in five plays with O’Brien hitting Adyn Paige in stride from 23 yards. Nick Pregibon’s extra point made it 34-14 with 7:30 left in the quarter.

But, again VASJ answered. Facing third-and-13 from their 40, the Vikings dialed up a screen to – who else – Powell, who caught it in the flat and raced untouched along the sideline for six points. VASJ led 47-14 at the end of three quarters after Jackson raced to the end zone from 57 yards.

Mooney closed to within 47-21 at the 4:05 mark of the fourth quarter on Thomas’ 1-yard run on fourth down.


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