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Running game leads Mooney to first victory

September 1, 2012
By LOU CALI JR. - Tribune Chronicle correspondent (sports@tribtoday.com) , Underthelights

YOUNGSTOWN - Justus Ellis-Moore answered every question from reporters quickly and bluntly. Years from now he may have a career as a speed talker.

His interview pretty much mirrored his performance on the field Friday night fast and effective.

The Cardinal Mooney senior captain ran just 10 times, but on most of those Spartan defenders were looking at the back of his jersey. He amassed 183 yards and two scores to lead his team to a 37-0 victory over backyard rival Boardman. The win came on the heels of a 31-7 Week 1 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius. Boardman routed Cleveland Benedictine in its opening game.

"It feels a lot better than last week," said Ellis-Moore, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound tailback. "We had to get back on track. We practiced hard, stayed pretty late."

While it's tough to pick one play as key in a 37-0 rout, there was a very important sequence late in the second quarter. On their first possession after Mark Handel's 69-yard punt return had given the Cardinals a 7-0 lead, Mooney had a first-and-20 in Boardman territory. Spartan defensive back Ryan Savage perfectly read a Denver Martin pass and looked like he had clear sailing for a touchdown. But the would-be interception squirted through his hands. On the next play Ellis-Moore scored from 37 yards out with just under two minutes remaining in the half. Instead of 7-7 game, Mooney reached intermission with a 14-0 lead.

On this night, Mooney's defense was not going to give up two scores.

"We had to come out with intensity," said Marlan Everson, a junior defensive end for the Cards. "We knew they would have intensity because of the rivalry. We had to set the tone."

Everson, whose brother J.T. Moore is a Boardman graduate and current defensive lineman for Ohio State, certainly helped the cause. He finished with four tackles for losses as Mooney held the Spartans to 23 rushing yards on 20 first-half carries and 155 total yards for the game.

"Obviously from the loss last week we were able to see some things and realized we have some guys that can play," said Mooney coach P.J. Fecko when asked about his defense's performance. "They took the responsibility upon themselves to practice hard but we still have a long way to go."

Coach Mark D'Eramo's club, even though it struggled moving the ball all night, only trailed 14-0 heading to the final quarter. The game began to get away when a bad snap from a punt led to a Mooney safety. A 42-yard TD run by Ellis-Moore, a 53-yard scamper by Marcus McWilson and a one-yard sneak by backup quarterback Ron Quaranta closed out the scoring on the Cardinals' next three possessions.

"That Boardman team is a good football team," Fecko said. "They're going to get back on track and have a good year."

McWilson ran six times for 77 yards for the winners. Boardman quarterback John Babos rushed 17 times for 65 yards. Mooney rushed 33 times for 303 yards.

sports@tribtoday.com