Lions roar into Liverpool
EAST LIVERPOOL — The first-ever football meeting between East Liverpool and Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin didn’t go the Potters’ way Friday night at Patterson Field as they dropped a 27-0 decision to the Lions.
The Potters, who have been riddled with injuries and COVID quarantines this season, dressed 32 players for the game but East Liverpool played NDCL tough, trailing just 14-0 late in the game before the Lions scored a pair of late touchdowns.
“I thought our kids played hard and I was proud of the effort for the most part,” said East Liverpool coach Josh Ludwig. “We just have to stay healthy and keep fighting.”
“We did a good job,” said NDCL coach Andrew Mooney. “This was a tough (East Liverpool) team and I told the guys all week we’re going to come down here and play a physical and aggressive team and this is a good test for us. We play in a good conference and these guys would compete in our conference too.”
One certainly couldn’t blame the Potters for trying to knock some rust off. Nearly half of East Liverpool’s starting unit hadn’t played in a game since Sept. 3 against Salem. The Potters were minus nine starters because of illness, injuries and contact tracing against Beaver Local Sept. 10. East Liverpool then had to cancel its game against Harrison Central last week because of more COVID-19 issues.
Most of the Potters’ starters played Friday but they were still minus starting quarterback Eric Williams.
“Eric Williams had a sickness and was really ill,” Ludwig said. “It was non COVID-related and we were really worried about him and we’re hoping to get Eric back soon.”
Without Williams, the Potters moved running back Devin Toothman behind center and he led all rushers in the game with 190 yards on 24 carries, while hard-running back Cam Irvine added 60 yards on 18 carries.
“Devin (Toothman) filled in tonight and rushed for 190 yards and did a great job,” Ludwig said. “I thought we played well for the most part, the kids had a lot of effort for three quarters and the injury bug hit us again and it hurt our line when we lost a couple guys.
“We were down about two starters tonight but by the end of the game we were down about six or seven.”
East Liverpool had its chances in the game, as the Potters’ ground attack reached the Lions’ red zone on three separate occasions but were held on downs twice in the first half at the NDCL 11- and 19-yard lines and at the Lions’ 21 in third quarter.
“We were able to get some drives sustained and we just couldn’t finish and plug it in,” said Ludwig.
NDCL was led by quarterback Jacob Koenig and running back Mark Tomei who combined for 401 yards of offense. Tomei rushed for 172 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown, while Koenig added 120 rushing yards and a touchdown and completed 11-of-15 passes for 109 yards and two aerial scores.
“Mark Tomei was banged up a lot last year with a knee injury and never really got to do what he could and this year he’s done a great job, he’s carrying the ball more than any running back we’ve had here,” said Mooney. “Normally it’s a backfield by committee and he has taken the load for that. And Jacob (Koenig) is a great threat back there to run or pass.”
The Lions scored on their first two possessions of the game on a 16-yard pass from Koenig to receiver Will Eppich in the left corner of the end zone and on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Koenig, giving the visitors a 14-0 lead at the 6:15 mark of the first period. Kicker Gianni Spetic added both PAT kicks. The drives covered 42 and 50 yards.
East Liverpool had two drives deep into Lion territory. Toothman had a 59-yard run to the NDCL 19 but the Potters were eventually held on downs at the NDCL 11. Later, the Potters had another drive stopped at the Lions’ 19.
Toothman had 127 yards rushing on 14 carries at half. Koenig led the Lions in the first half with 90 yards on 13 carries.
The score remained 14-0 through three-and-a-half quarters. NDCL added two scores in the closing minutes on a 23-yard pass from Koenig to Eppich and a three-yard run by Tomei. The second PAT kicked bounced off the left upright to close the scoring at 27-0.
With the loss, East Liverpool is 1-4.
“It was a tough loss and the score doesn’t quite reflect the entire game because it was 14-0 and then they got one late and then another one,” said Ludwig
NDCL improved to 4-2. The Lions have won three straight after opening the season 1-2.
≤ The Potters return to action next Friday when they host the Edison Wildcats in a Buckeye 8 North Division game. East Liverpool defeated Edison 46-10 last season.
“They (the Wildcats) are much improved and we’re going to start studying them now and get ready to go,” closed Ludwig.
≤ NDCL is a member of the Cleveland-Akron area based Crown Conference, a parochial league with Mentor Lake Catholic, Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Parma Padua Franciscan and Walsh Jesuit.
≤ East Liverpool signed a home-and-home contract with the Lions and will play at NDCL, based in the rural Chardon area, next season.
E. LIVERPOOL: 0- 0-0-0 — 0
NDCL — Will Eppich, 16 pass from Jacob Koenig, 9:50 1st (Gianni Spetic kick)
NDCL — Jacob Koenig, 1 run, 6:15 1st (Gianni Spetic kick)
NDCL — Will Eppich, 23 pass from Jacob Keonig, 6:29 4th (Gianni Spetic kick)
NDCL — Mark Tomei, 3 run, 1:50 4th (Kick failed)
First downs 23 14
Total yards 402 256
Rushes-yards 41-286 46-248
Passing 114 8
Comp-Att-Int 11-15-0 2-10-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Punts 2-32 4-36
Penalties-Yards 5-50 8-75
RUSHING — NDCL, Mark Tomei 4-172, Jacob Koenig 16-120; East Liverpool, Devin Toothman 23-190, Cam Irvine 18-60.
PASSING — NDCL, Jacob Koenig 11-15-109-2-0; East Liverpool, Devin Toothman 2-10-8-0-0.
RECEIVING — NDCL, Will Eppich 7-63, Nick Miller 1-22, Hayden Dixon 1-7, Tim Mamone 1-12; East Liverpool, Cam Irvine 1-3, Dashon Slappy 1-5.