The Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles only threw for four yards Saturday afternoon.
But in a pass-happy offense world, the Golden Eagles show that running the ball and playing strong defense is all that you need to win.
Cleveland Hill ran all day pilling up 392 yards in their 42-16 victory over the Southwestern Trojans to win their second straight Sectional VI Class C Championship.
It was the Golden Eagle strong defense and running game that shined in the game’s biggest moment.
The Trojan offense was moving the ball downfield late in the first quarter. Luke Heil took a toss for 13 yards to bring Southwestern into Golden Eagles’ territory. Trojan quarterback Cole Snyder picked up 16 yards on a bruising run up the middle. A few plays later, Burns made a diving catch to get the Trojans inside the 10 yard-line. However, the Cleveland Hill defense stood their ground as James Papura and Aaron Wahler stopped the Trojans on fourth and goal from the one-yard line.
Two plays later, Ryan Majerowski set a stadium record as he ran 99 yards for a Golden Eagle touchdown giving Cleveland Hill the 14-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the half.
“Those were two big plays in a sequence of big plays,” Cleveland Hill coach Glen Graham said. “We’ve been playing bend don’t brake defense all year.”
Majerowski knew before the snap that he was going to take it all the way.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Majerowski said. “Everyone was doing their job right on both plays. We saw the (Southwestern) linebackers move so we switched the play and it was open.”
Majerowski scored again on a 76-yard run in the fourth quarter. He led the way with 207 yards on seven carries.
According to Graham, Majerowski could have been the feature back all year but he is more than willing to block for his teammates.
“A lot of people look at Ryan as not being one of our top options but he’s a top football player,” Graham said. “He had that capability the whole year. He’s been really unselfish blocking for the guys behind him, so it is great to see him have a game like this.”
The Southwestern defense started the game out strong with a quick three-and-out.
The offense fed off the momentum on the next drive. Snyder pitched the ball Brain Burns who gave the Trojans a big gain of 20 yards. A few plays later, Snyder found Derek Miller for a 14-yard touchdown pass to put Southwestern on the board first.
On the ensuing kickoff, Javon Thomas brought the return to midfield giving the Golden Eagles strong field position. Cleve-Hill quarterback Brett Kochanski found room on the outside taking a keeper for 10 yards to the Southwestern 22-yard line. On the next play, Aaron Wahler took a handoff up the middle for the touchdown and the Golden Eagles got the lead after running in the two-point conversion.
After Majerowski’s touchdown run, Southwestern once again got favorable field position at midfield. Snyder started the drive with a 25-yard run. He then found Miller for 15 yards giving the Trojans first and goal. But the Cleveland Hill defense stood strong. Card hit a 25-yard field goal to cut his team’s deficit to 14-10.
Graham gave a lot of credit to Southwestern.
“They are the super competitive team over there,” Graham said. “When we scored and they came back we expected that. The big thing we focused on all week was that if they made positive plays we were going to have to come back with positive plays of our own.”
Card came up with another big play on the next drive as he read Kochanski’s eyes and picked him off with two and a half minutes left in the half.
Southwestern began to quickly move the ball down the field. However, a tipped pass from Snyder was picked off by Chris Diem who returned it 62 yards for the touchdown extending their lead to 20-10.
On the next drive, the Trojans had a strong chance as Snyder found Card for 42 yards bringing the ball to the 21-yard line with nine seconds left. However, Southwestern could not come away with any points as a pass to Burns was underthrown.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half for the Trojans.
They had a punt blocked early in the third quarter giving the Golden Eagles the ball at Southwestern 21-yard line. Cleveland Hill took advantage on a one-yard scoring run by Wahler, giving the Golden Eagles a 28-10 lead.
Cleve Hill scored again as Thomas went 53 yards on the first play of the next drive.
The Trojans fought until the very end and got one final score when Card scored on a 47-yard run with no time left.
Southwestern head coach Jehuu Caulcrick was proud of the way his team play and is looking forward to the future.
“As hard as it was to say goodbye to those nine seniors, I’m excited for next year,” Caulcrick said. “We have a good group of kids coming back that are hard works and hungry.”
Now the Golden Eagles must look forward to next week and find a way to keep going. Last year, the Golden Eagles fell in the Far West Regionals to Bishop Kearney.
“We are going to get ready for the next game and we want to keep going,” Majerowski said.