St. Xavier offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst couldn’t contain his elation Friday night.
Less than 30 minutes after St. X defeated Moeller, 14-10, at Nippert Stadium, Bombers’ players and supporters enjoyed the celebration.
“I am extremely fired up,” Bockhorst said. “This is awesome.”
St. X rallied from a 10-0 second-half deficit in the Greater Catholic League South division opener for both teams this season.
Related: St. Xavier schedule, stats
St. X defeated Moeller for the first time Sept. 21, 2012. The Crusaders had won the past four meetings prior to Friday night.
“Four times in a row they beat us,” Bockhorst said. “Two years. … Enough is enough – that was the theme. Enough is enough. At some point in the locker room I said ‘Guys: Enough is enough and I am tired of it.’ And we changed our mentality. We were tired of the stupid mistakes.”
St. X coach Steve Specht knew sustaining the ground game would be a key Friday night. The Bombers certainly capitalized on that in the second half against host Moeller.
St. X had 308 yards of total offense, including 161 net rushing yards. Senior running back Sean Prophit had 75 net yards rushing and a key fourth-quarter touchdown to give the Bombers the lead.
“For me this is the biggest game of the year unless we go to state,” Prophit said. “It’s crazy. Everyone was so much more amped this week. There is a different atmosphere every time we play them. It’s always fun.”
The two teams displayed a typical physical brand of football the GCL South is known for throughout the nation.
“That’s a classic GCL football game,” Specht said. “You have two great teams banging at each other for four quarters.”
Related: Moeller schedule, stats
St. Xavier (4-1, 1-0 GCL South) is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press Division I state poll and No. 2 in The Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll. The Bombers play host to Elder Oct. 2.
Moeller (2-3, 0-1 GCL South) is ranked No. 5 in the Enquirer poll. The Crusaders play host to La Salle Oct. 2 at Lockland.
Prophit’s 5-yard touchdown run with 6:19 left in the fourth quarter helped give the Bombers a 14-10 lead. And it would be the deciding score. That touchdown completed a 7-play, 58-yard drive that took 3:01.
“Proph is just a workhorse,” Specht said.
St. Xavier closed the gap to 10-7 with 7:02 left in the third quarter when junior Quinn Earley scored on a 9-yard touchdown carry and senior Connor Maciag added the extra point. That completed a 9-play, 80-yard drive.
Earley finished with 51 net rushing yards on 10 carries.
That scoring play was helped set up by Sean Clifford’s 42-yard pass connection to junior Louis Raines on second down, which gave the Bombers the ball at the Moeller 25.
“This type of game, this kind of atmosphere – it’s a great experience for me and my team,” said Clifford, a Penn State commit. “I am just excited.”
St. X senior defensive back J.P. Bitzenhofer had a game-high 12 tackles (seven solo) and a 48-yard punt return in the first quarter.
The Crusaders scored on the fourth play of the third quarter when senior Thomas MacVittie (Pittsburgh commit) found senior tight end Jake Hausmann (Ohio State commit) for a 60-yard pass connection to help give Moeller a 10-0 lead. That completed a 4-play, 80-yard drive that took 1:25.
Moeller led 3-0 at halftime. St. X was 0-for-2 in the red zone in the first quarter and 1-of-3 on first downs. But, the Bombers stuck to the game plan.
“We stayed the course and part of that course was being able to mix it up run/pass but we felt we got to a point where the ability to run was going to carry us,” Specht said.
Moeller coach John Rodenberg said St. X made less mistakes, and the Crusaders need to address their errors going forward.
The Crusaders had 284 yards of total offense, including 173 passing and 111 on the ground.
Junior running back Hunter Hughes had 20 carries for 75 net rushing yards. Senior linebacker John Griga had a team-high 10 tackles (seven solo).
Moeller senior Matt Coghlin (Michigan State commit) kicked a 44-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Crusaders the lead. That field goal completed an 8-play, 53-yard drive that took 3:01.
Coghlin’s field goal was on Moeller’s second drive of the first quarter. Coghlin also had six punts for 238 yards for the game.
Friday was the 61st meeting between the GCL South rivals. Moeller leads the overall series 40-20-1, according to Moeller archivist Dick Beerman.
St. Xavier 0-0-7-7–14
M-FG Coghlin 44
M-Hausmann 60 pass from MacVittie (Coghlin kick)
X-Earley 9 run (Maciag kick)
X-Prophit 5 run (Maciag kick)
Records: X 4-1, 1-0 GCL-S; M 2-3, 0-1