Throughout much of Saturday’s season kickoff between Ohio power Lakewood St. Edward and Pittsburgh-area contender Pine-Richland, the Rams appeared the more threatening squad. Notre Dame quarterback commit Phil Jurkovec was hitting on all cylinders, the Rams were threatening through the air and on the ground and the Eagles were often on their back foot.
Then St. Ed’s came rushing back and stole the game, using toughness up front and the constant churning legs of running back Curtis Szelesta to steal a 28-27, season-opening victory on national TV as part of GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff. The victory came in the first game in which the Eagles wore gold uniforms in 25 years, according to ESPN.
The rust belt showdown lived up to expectations, with Szelesta piloting a grinding running back for the ball control-focused Eagles and Jurkovec, the 5-star dual-threat quarterback, providing an explosive spark for the Rams. In the end, the difference between the teams was a Pine-Richland missed extra point just before halftime, which staked the Eagles to a 21-20 lead at the break. The second half was full of plenty of sloppy turnovers but just two scores: A long touchdown on a screen pass on Pine-Richland’s opening drive and a late, explosive drive keyed by the running of Szelesta and quarterback Kevin Kramer, whose scrambling kept the Rams defense honest.
The breakthrough moment came on a 26-yard touchdown scamper by Szelesta, capping a fourth quarter in which he ran for more than 100 yards as part of his 207 total. The made extra point gave the Eagles a 28-27 lead with 1:57 remaining, and after a kickoff and two thoroughly snuffed out screen pass attempts, a harried Jurkovec lofted a pass downfield on the run that was intercepted by Deshane Bloodworth with less than 90 seconds remaining, allowing the Eagles to run out the clock on a win that had felt just out of reach throughout most of the second half.