YOUNGSTOWN - Justus Ellis-Moore and Cardinal Mooney dashed Red Lion Christian Academy's bid for a season sweep of Youngstown's Catholic high school football powers on Saturday night.
Ellis-Moore raced 39 yards for a touchdown with 1:57 to play to give the Cardinals a 21-16 victory over the Lions.
Red Lion crushed Ursuline, 54-18, on Aug. 26 in a game also played at Stambaugh Stadium. This visit didn't go the same way.
"I think our guys did a great job preparing all week, and coming out and executing it," Cardinal Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said. "That was a really good football team on the other side there."
Red Lion led 3-0 after a first-quarter field goal, but Cardinal Mooney senior P.J. Quinn hit senior Ryan Farragher for a 28-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals a 7-3 lead.
Cardinal Mooney (3-2) controlled almost the entire clock in the second quarter, capped by a rushing touchdown by Quinn as the Cardinals took a 14-3 halftime lead.
Red Lion took advantage of one of Roosevelt Griffin's three fumbles to score a third-quarter touchdown. Freshman David Sills' 23-yard touchdown pass to junior Jahmere Irvin got the Lions within four, 14-10. After another fumble recovery, Red Lion drove again, this time getting a field goal to cut it to 14-13 after three quarters.
Yet another Cardinal Mooney fumble helped Red Lion regain the lead, 16-14, with another field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
That set the state for Ellis-Moore's go-ahead score.
But the Lions weren't finished. Sills threw a fourth-down pass to keep their drive alive and moved his team to midfield with 21 seconds to play. The freshman ran for a first down, but was hit hard and nearly left the game. Red Lion called its final timeout so trainers could pop his shoulder back into place.
On fourth down from the Cardinals' 40 with 4 seconds to play, Sills hit Wendell Smallwood on a quick slant, but the receiver was tackled at the Cardinal Mooney 26 as time expired.
"Our offense did a very poor job of field position for the defense," Fecko said. "Our defense responded and kept holding them to field goals. Where they could have folded or given up a big play, they didn't. They kept getting field goals and played solid all night."
The coach said Cardinal Mooney's schedule prepares the Cardinals for games like these.
"There's not much you have to say," Fecko said. "When you play the teams like we have week in and week out, we know we're going to have tough opponents. We've done it from (Canton) McKinley to Boardman to (Lakewood) St. Edward, and they're no different. It doesn't take much motivation. The teams coming in are ready to play and you'd better be also."
After a tough loss to Mentor Lake Catholic last week and Saturday night's victory, Fecko said motivation is the same throughout the entire season.
"Whether it's Week 1, Week 5, Week 6, coming off a win, coming off a loss, if you do it any other way you're setting yourself up for failure," Fecko said.
Cardinal Mooney has a bye next week. The Cardinals travel to face Mifflin County on Oct. 7.