Elder waited until week 10 to play its most complete game of the season in a 21-7 win over La Salle that earned the Panthers a share of the Greater Catholic League South championship with St. Xavier.
It’s the first league title for Elder (7-3) since 2008 and the Panthers likely secured a home playoff game next week.
Between the Elder defense and senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey, the Panthers dominated La Salle for its third loss (all against GCL South opponents) in its last 25 games.
“A lot of people doubted us all the way through,” said Elder coach Doug Ramsey, who said his team and defense gained confidence following last week’s comeback overtime win. “We’ve had some ups and downs. We’ve had some big wins and some bad losses, but we’re in a position in week 10 where we’re playing for a championship – you can’t ask for more than that and our guys responded.
“Our defense was outstanding tonight. (La Salle) couldn’t get a whole lot going against us. We did enough good things on offense to control the clock, control the ball and score enough to win.”
Peyton Ramsey started the scoring for Elder with a pair of first half rushing touchdowns and a 6-yard touchdown pass to one of his favorite targets, senior Nick Hall, with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
It seemed every time Elder needed to convert or needed a play, Ramsey made it happen, or the defense did something that made the purple people stand up.
“You’re proud of (all the) players but when it’s your son and he can make the plays he makes, it’s indescribable,” said Ramsey. “Because we count on him so much, if it’s third down and he has to make a play with his feet or his arm, most of the time he gets it done. I don’t know how I’m ever gonna replace him, it’s gonna be tough.”
The Panthers’ defense turned La Salle over on downs four times and junior defensive back Zach Lyons snagged an unbelievable interception on the Panthers’ own 2-yard line to kill a drive. Elder held La Salle to 77 rushing yards and the Lancers’ only big play was an 82-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nick Watson to senior running back Jeremy Larkin, who slipped in and out of nearly half a dozen tackles on the play, with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Elder was 6 of 10 converting on third down, and La Salle was 3 for 11. Elder possessed the ball for just over 30 minutes, leaving La Salle with the ball for roughly 18 minutes.
“We prepared all week, that’s what really got us this win,” said Peyton, an Indiana commit, who completed 14 of 18 passes for 145 yards and rushed for 90 yards. “We practiced like we wanted to be GCL champions. It’s amazing, the first time (in my) three years being a GCL champ. Growing up as a kid I wanted to be a champion in this league and I finally did it.”
Larkin finished with 54 rushing yards and 108 receiving yards. Larkin’s long catch and run was his 81st career touchdown, making him tied with former Elder running back Bradley Glatthaar (2001-03) for the most career touchdowns in GCL South history.
Elder senior running back Ja’Vahri Portis had 75 yards on 21 carries and Hall finished with six catches for 77 yards and the touchdown grab was his 16th of the season.
“I stayed focused because of the teammates I have. I can count on these guys,” said Peyton. “We’re brothers, we’re closer than teammates.”
La Salle coach Jim Hilvert said, “Elder played well, they were very physical on both sides of the ball. We didn’t tackle very well, as a matter of fact, we didn’t do a lot of things well tonight and we still had a chance to be in the game. Hats off to coach Ramsey and his team, they did a great job. We can’t let this game define our football team. There’s a lot of football left.”
A year ago, in week 10, the Lancers beat up the Panthers to earn a share of the league title.
First round playoff pairings are announced Sunday.
Elder 7-7-7-0 – 21
La Salle 0-7-0-0 – 7
E – Ramsey 7 run (Onorato kick)
E – Ramsey 4 run (Onorato kick)
L – Larkin 82 pass from Watson (Chrisman kick)
E – Hall 6 pass from Ramsey (Onorato kick)
Records: E 7-3, L 8-2