Cleveland St. Ignatius overwhelmed Pickerington Central, 34-13, to win the Division I state championship Saturday at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium in front of 12,181 fans. HERE’S HOW IT WENT DOWN…
St. Ignatius Back On Top, Wildcats Win 11th State Crown
Wildcats improve to 61-12 all-time in the playoffs with 34-13 win over Pickerington Central
CANTON, Ohio – Cleveland St. Ignatius overwhelmed the previously celebrated defense of Pickerington Central, 34-13, to win the 2011 Division I football state championship Saturday evening at Canton Fawcett Stadium in front of 12,181 fans. The win marks the 11th state title for the Wildcats and extends their record for the all-time state championships for one school. Newark Catholic and Youngstown Cardinal Mooney are tied for second with eight titles apiece. Central (11-3) takes home its school’s second state runner-up trophy (2011, 2006) and suffers its first loss since Week 2.
The Wildcats (13-2), who missed the playoffs last year for the first time in 23 years, now have 61 wins and 12 losses for an 83.6 playoff winning percentage. The mark is second among all teams with 50 or more playoff games.
Entering the game, St. Ignatius knew they would be facing a Central defense that had only allowed 31 points in its previous four playoff games. That stat didn’t faze the Wildcats, however, as they came out and put up 20 points in the first half alone. They were led in the game by senior quarterback Eric Williams, who threw for 297 yards on 19 of 31 passing. Junior wide receiver Conor Hennessey was on the receiving end of four of those tosses and totaled 103 yards for an average of 25.8 yards a reception. Williams also connected with senior wide receiver Jake Mooney seven times for 79 yards. Junior running back Tim McVey did the damage on the ground as he ran for 107 yards on 24 carries.
Central was led by senior quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg, who threw for 280 yards on 21 of 38 attempts. His biggest targets for the evening were senior receivers Sebastian Smith and Jake Raymond. Smith caught four passes for 141 yards (a 35.2 yard average), while Raymond collected 64 yards on eight catches.
The Wildcats struck first in the game when Williams connected with senior wide receiver Tim McCoy for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Three plays later, St. Ignatius senior defensive back Adam North recovered a Central fumble and returned it 16 yards to set up a Tim Shenk 31-yard field goal with 6:19 remaining in the first. The All-Ohio senior kicker tacked on another three points with 1:09 remaining to put the Wildcats up 13-0 heading into the second quarter. Shenk’s two field goals tied a Division I record for most field goals in a state final game.
St. Ignatius struck again in the second quarter with an eight-yard rushing touchdown by McVey, but the Tigers were able to respond on their ensuing offensive possession when Jensen-Clagg found senior wide receiver Roger Lewis for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown capped off a five-play, 78-yard drive for the Tigers and cut the deficit to 20-7. With 5:21 remaining on the clock, Central regained possession, setting up a screen pass to Smith, who turned it into a 75-yard touchdown run. Senior Billy Eakins helped Smith’s effort with a critical block that brought the Tiger fans to their feet and cut the lead to 20-13 heading into halftime.
St. Ignatius recovered a Central fumble early in the third quarter and took over on Central’s 28. Williams then found Hennessey on the next play for a 17-yard gain to help set up a McVey 1-yard rushing touchdown and extend the lead to 27-13 with 8:20 left in the third quarter. That score would stand until 3:50 left in the fourth when Williams found senior wide receiver Jake Mooney for a 40-yard touchdown pass that ultimately sealed the win for the Wildcats.