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Ignatius stops Spartans

November 6, 2011
By MARTY GITLIN - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

PARMA - It's never a good sign when several players in your backfield are wearing different colored uniforms.

That's what Boardman was forced to contend with in its Division I regional quarterfinal Saturday night against St. Ignatius. No sooner were the Spartans taking snaps and handoffs before they were stopped dead in their tracks. The result was the Wildcats emerging with a 29-14 victory that set up a semifinal showdown next week against archrival St. Edward.

The Spartans threw the first and last punch with touchdowns in the first and fourth quarter. But Ignatius tossed haymakers in between and held Boardman to a meager 11 yards rushing in 29 attempts on the night. That was no formula for an upset.

The discrepancy in the two ground attacks became more pronounced in the second half, when the Spartans went backwards for minus-28 yards on 13 carries while the Wildcats completed a game in which they rushed for 197 yards.

"We got a lot better feel for their blocking schemes," explained Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle. "They do a great job with that option, but we put them into a situation where they had to throw the ball. We weren't necessarily getting sacks, but we forced [Boardman quarterback Ryan Pollifrone] to throw off-balance. As the game went on they weren't able to run that well."

Running was not a problem for Wildcats quarterback Eric Williams, who escaped pressure and darted through holes for 98 yards on the ground. His arm also proved to be quite a weapon with three touchdown strikes.

It was Pollifrone, however, who struck on the first series of the game with a 34-yard pass that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Devin Campbell. But the Spartans couldn't maintain the momentum. Ignatius answered when Williams hit tight end and Ohio State recruit Blake Thomas over the middle for a 15-yard score to knot it at 7-7.

Strong-legged placekicker Tim Shenk booted two field goals in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 13-7 lead. Only a critical sack of Williams by Boardman defensive lineman Zach Machuga midway through the second quarter prevented a worse first-half fate.

That fate was sealed by early in the fourth quarter. Ignatius stretched the lead to 20-7 on its first possession of the second half on a 14-yard scoring strike from Williams to Thomas. Brilliant defensive lineman Mike Ryan registered a tackle in the end zone for a safety to make it 22-7, then Williams rolled out and hit split end Tim McCoy for a 15-yard touchdown to put the game away.

In the end, Boardman coach Mark D'Eramo understood that his team was simply outplayed, particularly in regard to the ground game.

"You can't beat anyone if you can't run the football at this stage," he said. "I thought our defense played hard and had some opportunities, but we didn't get it done. We didn't tackle well in the first half and that really hurt us."

Machuga accepted some of the blame for missed tackles that kept the defense on the field. He and his teammates had a hard time corralling Ignatius featured back Tim McVey, who finished with 77 yards on 16 attempts.