BEDFORD, Ohio – It was not pretty, but the Benedictine Bengals will take it. Coach Ben Malbasa’s young team did not play well, but they played just well enough to steal a win away from Holy Name in the Bengals’ home opener at Bedford Bearcat Stadium.
(2-2) Benedictine’s freshman quarterback Brian Schoeffler started his first game, and looked like a freshman for much of the evening, especially in the first half, as (0-4) Holy Name jumped out to a 9-0 lead, behind three field goals from Donald Stepic.
The Bengals finally got on the board when Marshall Howell powered across from one-yard out, to cut the lead to 9-7. But Holy Name struck right back, using a long pass play to set up a short touchdown run, extending the Green Wave’s lead to 16-7.
It looked like the Namers would take that advantage into the locker room, until Schoeffler led an impressive drive in the final minute of the half, capped by Howell’s second rushing touchdown, which made it 16-13 Holy Name at the intermission.
The Green Wave came out firing to open the third quarter, with Mike Messina throwing deep to John Ehrbar, who did the rest, racing 38-yards for Holy Name’s second touchdown and a 23-13 lead.
But once again, the Bengals wasted no time striking back, as Schoeffler hit Howell, who used his sprinter speed to run right past the Namers secondary, 48-yards for what proved to be the biggest play of the game. Howell’s second score cut Holy Name's lead to 23-20 heading to the fourth quarter.
The teams traded punts and turnovers, in the final frame, which each wasting valuable chances in the opponent’s red zone, before Benedictine’s workhorse made his presence felt. Jerome Baker took a swing pass behind the line of scrimmage, broke two tackles, and threw another Holy Name defender to the ground, then sprinted 40-yards down the sideline, for what proved to be the game-winning score.
The Bengals defense stood firm on two Holy Name drives in the final four minutes, and Benedictine held on to win, 27-23, in a game that was much closer than anyone expected.
(2-2) Benedictine hits the road next Saturday, September 22nd, to face (2-2) Cleveland Central Catholic, a 42-7 winner over Gilmour Academy.
(0-4) Holy Name returns home to North Royalton’s Serpentini Chevrolet Stadium, to host (2-2) Padua.
For all the final scores, plus video highlights and photo galleries from all of Friday and Saturday’s games, head over to the FOX-8 High School Football page.