Pressure leads St. Edward’s best defensive performance ‘by far’

Cleveland 1 month ago

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Neither quarterback had much time to settle his feet. No running back reached the line of scrimmage without having to shed a tackler.

Both defenses for St. Edward and St. Ignatius put on a show Saturday night in the Eagles’ 7-3 win at First Federal Lakewood Stadium. Arguably, both defenses played their best games of the 2019 season.

St. Edward defensive end and Michigan State commit Jeff Pietrowski confirmed it.

"By far," he said. "They're a great offense. To only give up three, that's what we were looking for."

It started with Terron Lee, who broke through the interior line early and rocked St. Ignatius quarterback Griffin Hanna after a rollout to elude the rush. Lee made repeated trips early to disrupt St. Ignatius’ backfield. Pietrowski soon followed and senior Alex Colangelo later provided one of the final sacks of the night for the Eagles (6-1), who are second in the cleveland.com area football rankings.

No. 7 St. Ignatius (3-4) came close to reaching the end zone in the first half, closing with a drive that reached the 3-yard line before a penalty pushed the Wildcats back and forced them to settle for a field goal. That attempt missed wide left, but the Wildcats later took the lead with Declan Mangan's 49-yard kick.

They just never got any closer than that final drive of the first half.

St. Ignatius' running lanes tightened up, and it managed just 105 yards the rest of the way.

"It just shows we're physical," said senior safety Richard Johnson, whose interception with 1:09 left ended St. Ignatius' threat. "We like to get after the quarterback and make him throw it. Just hit. We like to hit."

Count senior cornerback Donovan Stanley among them. Following multiple pass breakups, he added a sack off a corner blitz in the fourth quarter. Beyond the returning starters from last year's OHSAA Division I state championship run — including Pietrowski, Johnson, plus defensive backs Logan and Lawson Nash — St. Edward is getting more production from its first-year starters.

"We've come a long way from Week 1," Johnson said. "We just have gotten better each week, progressing."

Before Saturday, St. Edward enjoyed strong defensive performances early in the season vs. Detroit Cass Tech, Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep and Cincinnati Elder. The Eagles gave up points, but coach Tom Lombardo left the field saying he was pleased with the performances.

This time, the season-low three points given up provided tangible evidence of their progression.

"We're getting to that point where the chemistry is getting there," Pietrowski said. "We're making plays. We're making sacks instead of getting close. We're making the picks when we need them."

Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email (mgoul@cleveland.com). Or log in and leave a message in the comments section.


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