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Thrice as nice: Ursuline earns 3rd straight over Mooney with 43-12 win

Staff photo / Joel Whetzel Ursuline’s DeMarcus McElroy run for a gain Saturday evening against Cardinal Mooney at Mineral Ridge. McElroy had a big game for the Fighting Irish, rushing for 127 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25 carries.

MINERAL RIDGE — After the Ursuline defense forced a 3-and-out, tailback DeMarcus McElroy took the Irish’s first play from scrimmage 56 yards to the Mooney 15. Two plays later, Brady Shannon ran in a 10-yard touchdown.

It was the perfect tone-setter on a night of dominance for Ursuline, as the Irish hammered archrival Cardinal Mooney 43-12 in each team’s regular-season finale. The win is Ursuline’s third in a row over the Cardinals, though Mooney still leads the all-time series 42-23-3.

Of his run to get Ursuline (6-3) going, McElroy said, “We always set our mind around big plays, and we want to put together good drives.”

He added about topping Mooney for a third straight season, “It feels real good for our seniors going three in a row. We wanted this game a lot; we wanted to push this game out of the way to get ready for six more weeks (of football now entering the postseason.)”

After Shannon’s touchdown put Ursuline up 8-0, the Irish kept the pedal to the metal, racing out to a 36-0 lead before Mooney (1-9) found the end zone on a 10-yard pass from Ashton O’Brien to Nolan Radinsky to go into halftime with a 36-6 score.

McElroy ran 25 times for 127 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Quarterback Brady Shannon put together an efficient performance, completing 14 of 15 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He added 45 yards and that initial score on the ground.

Dean Boyd grabbed five receptions for 50 yards and a 13-yard touchdown, while Will Burney added 4 catches for 66 yards and a 23-yard score.

Boyd’s touchdown reception came on Ursuline’s second drive to make things 14-0 before McElroy plunged in for his first score of the night, a 4-yard touchdown. That score was set up by a surprise onside kick recovered by Ty’Req Donlow.

Two drives later, Burney hauled in his 23-yard score to go up 28-0, and then McElroy added a 1-yard touchdown to make it 36-0.

In all, Ursuline scored touchdowns on six of its nine drives.

“In this rivalry, you can never assume anything. So coming in we expected (Mooney’s) best effort, and for us to come out and just handle our business like we did, I was very proud,” Ursuline head coach Dan Reardon said.

And while the offense moved the ball seemingly at will, the defense kept Mooney’s attack from building for most of the night. The Cardinals were held to just 84 yards of offense on 40 plays, and didn’t find any rhythm until the game was well in hand for Ursuline.

“We’re really happy about how our defense played early in the game,” Reardon said. “They really pressured (O’Brien) and did well against the run and got (Mooney) into long-yardage situations. In this rivalry, you can’t assume that’ll happen so I’m proud of that effort.”

In the third quarter, McElroy added his final touchdown, a 6-yard score, and then Mooney’s Da’Qua Douglas answered with a 4-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.

The loss brings to an end a tough season for the Cardinals. Still, head coach Carl Pelini is optimistic about things moving forward.

“We just have to keep getting better and work hard in the weight room,” Pelini said of the upcoming offseason. We played a lot of young kids this year, and they got a lot of game experience. We just have to keep getting better.”

Of that valuable experience, he added, “Hopefully it gives us a foundation to build on, that’s for sure. We have a good freshman class, and the future looks bright for Mooney. It was just a difficult year.”

The Irish, meanwhile, are off to the postseason. Matchups are slated to be released today, though it’s safe to assume the Irish will begin the playoffs with a home game.

“It’s the old coaching cliche: you have one day to feel good about it, then we have to get back to work,” Reardon said. “We’ll figure out who we’re playing next week, (Sunday) we’ll get a game plan together, and then it’s onto the next one.”

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