The victory, coupled with Kirtland’s 31-10 win over Cuyahoga Heights, sets up a battle of 12-0 unbeatens for the Division V, Region 17 crown next week.
“We’ve been a bend-but-don’t break defense all year,” Irish coach Dan Reardon said. “And we’ve always taken the apporach, whether it’s Week 1 or Week 15, that you try to improve every single game.”
Senior tailback Teague put on a stellar show, racking up 158 yards on the ground, 70 yards receiving, and four rushing touchdowns — and that was before halftime. He finished with 169 yards rushing and 103 receiving.
“We knew he was fast,” Norwayne coach Joe Harbour said. “But I didn’t realize he had that much power, too. He’s the best athlete we’ve seen all year.”
Though Ursuline has held opponents to single-digit scores three times this season, not since walloping Cleveland East Tech, 40-0, has the team held an opponent scoreless. And though the Irish gave up a few big plays, Norwayne couldn’t string together enough moments of productivity when it mattered. Norwayne amassed to 179 rushing yards and 80 passing yards, and though they managed 15 first downs to Ursuline’s 12 and spent a fair amount of time in Irish territory, their two trips to the red zone both came up empty.
Ursuline opened the game with a three-and-a-half minute, 56-yard drive, but stalled inside the 10-yard line when Norwayne stuffed a pair of Teague runs and a Paul Kempe pass fell incomplete, forcing the Irish to settle for a 32-yard Jeff Podolsky field goal.
Norwayne responded on its first possession by marching from its own 23 well into Ursuline territory, but wound up turning the ball over on downs after a fourth-and-2 sack on the 33-yard-line.
And that’s when things caught fire Irish-style: After a 3-yard first-down run, Teague zig-zagged his second-down carry for 48 yards, and followed it up on the next play with a 12-yard touchdown dash. Podolsky’s kick made it 10-0.
The teams traded punts over the next two series, with Ursuline’s third possession bridging the first and second quarters. But after Norwayne’s subsequent three-and-out and its second punt of the game, Teague flashed for a 55-yard touchdown run on the Irish’s first play from scrimmage.
He added touchdown runs of 11 and 8 yards before the quarter was out, along with a 66-yard pass reception — a good deal of which consisted of yards after the catch — and by halftime, Ursuline was up 28-0.
Kempe threw for 139 yards on the night, completing 7 of 11 passes, with Teague accounting for 103 yards on three catches.
Still, Norwayne did open the third quarter with an impressive drive, starting on its own 9-yard line and pounding downfield with a 14-play drive that included a dozen running plays and a 50-yard carry from running back Jon Zimmerly, who accounted for 77 yards on seven carries on the night. Upon reaching the Ursuline 4-yard line, though, the Bobcats hit an Irish wall and were stuffed for a 2-yard gain, two consecutive losses, and an incomplete pass.
“You come out after halftime, and good coaches make good adjustments, and that’s what they did,” Reardon said.
Those adjustments weren’t close to enough, though. Ursuline extended its lead to 35-0 on a 2-yard Trevor Smith dart with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter. Then the defense came through again, first by forcing Norwayne to turn the ball over on downs, then by making up for an Irish-lost fumble with a Khallid Pierce 45-yard touchdown interception early in the final quarter.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Ursuline’s Akise Teague (26) runs through the Norwayne defense.