Underestimated

The Elder Panthers stun the nation by knocking off #1 ranked Lakewood St. Edward Eagles

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Quarterback Peyton Ramsey looks for an open receiver. He had a career high 274 yards and a rushing touchdown in Elder's big upset win

To almost the entire nation, it just appeared to be another blowout win for the number ranked team.

Hopefully next time the nation won’t think twice before counting out the Elder Panthers.

The purple and white knocked off the Lakewood St. Edward Eagles, the number one team in the nation according to MaxPreps, by a score of 21-14 in front of a crowd of over 7,000 at The Pit, a game that was widely expected to be a blowout win in favor of the Eagles.

Led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who had a career-high 274 yards and a rushing touchdown to cap off the first half, the Panthers pulled off their biggest upset since they stopped Earth’s rotation with their 41-34 win over Charlotte Independence, ending what was that team’s historic 109-game winning streak.

Ramsey said that the team worked tirelessly all week and had no doubt that this was their game to lose,

“We just practiced all week like we were going to win this game,” Ramsey said. “We were the only people who thought we were going to win. We came out and we did it and I am so proud of everyone on this team.”

I can say with confidence that this was undoubtedly the greatest game I’ve ever been to in my Elder career, especially since I had the lucky opportunity to be one of Elder’s cheerleaders.

The cheering section was rocking the entire night and made sure to let St. Edwards know that it wasn’t going to be an easy win.

Senior David Meyer was a cheerleader for the game and told me that it was the best he’s ever seen the crowd,

“It was really rowdy. Loudest I’ve ever heard. We really tried to get the whole crowd involved. It was by far the best game I’ve ever been to in my life.”

The game started off rough for the Panthers. Just six plays into the game, Eagles quarterback Brett Kean (South Florida commit) connected with wide receiver Shaun Crawford (Notre Dame commit) for a 26-yard touchdown pass to put his team ahead 7-0 just minutes into the game.

At that point, it seemed like it could be a long night for the Panthers, but the game was far from finished.

The score remained 7-0 until the second quarter, where a 29-yard run by sophomore Garren Messmore led to the first of two field goals by kicker Jerry Porter, which eventually found Elder down only 7-6.

A controversial call was made when Elder linebacker Kyle Orloff appeared to recover an onside kick from his own team, but the referee signaled that the Eagles had called for a fair catch prior to the recovery, meaning they would get the ball in Elder territory.

“The guy made a fair-catch on the ball, so they have the right to catch it before the kickoff team”, Orloff explained. “But in the heat of the moment I reached up and grabbed it anyway.”

After an Eagles three and out, Elder drove down the field and put seven on the board after Ramsey’s five-yard run made it 13-7 at the half, marking the first time the Eagles had trailed all season.

Twenty minutes and a fun performance from our marching band later, the game resumed play.

Elder received the ball to start the half and marched down the field until the 9:20 mark, when they coughed up the turn over, and St. Ed’s made them pay for it with a touchdown after going for it on 4th and 2, putting them back on top 14-13.

The fourth quarter rolled around and Elder had possession of the ball. Like St. Ed’s, Elder made the decision to go for it on 4th and short and like St. Ed’s it paid off. Junior running back Ja’Vahri Portis took it three-yards in for six and Elder was back up 21-14, with Ramsey connecting with senior wideout Louis Faillace for the two-point conversion.

Faillace knew he had to step up when star receiver Nick Hall suffered a broken collar bone in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game,

“I knew I had to step up since this was a big game. When Hall went down I knew that someone had to make up for all the yards he puts up, since he’s our best receiver. Actually, I’ve never been more relaxed during a game.”

Faillace, aka the “Italian Stallion” was honored by the Cincinnati Enquirer this week by making their list of the top performances in Ohio during Week 4, with 13 receptions for 145 yards and a score. Ramsey also made the list with his career-best 274 yards and rushing TD.

 

The Eagles had one more drive to come up with a tie score. They were able to get into Elder territory, but Kean was sacked by defensive end Joe Schroer for a big loss with 1:50 left. A pair of incompletions later, history was in the books.

One of the greatest cheering sections we’ve had in recent memory celebrated by storming the field against the will of a few authoritarians, but if you’re a senior in high school and your football team just beat the number one team in the entire nation, you should just let loose and go nuts with the rest of your classmates.

After the game, head coach Doug Ramsey praised his defense for holding their own against all odds,

“Our defense – we are not the biggest group of guys out there or the fastest but they do what the coaches ask,” he said. “They play hard and tackle well.”

He went on to praise the fans for making the atmosphere as awesome as it was, and for his players for keeping cool and controlling the game on both sides of the ball,

“It’s big because it’s a No. 1 team. Just the excitement for the kids and the fans with that. But I think the other part which makes it big is the way we did it. We controlled the game and we did it coming off of a loss.”

Other big contributors include junior linebacker Ryan Furniss, who had 7.5 tackles, senior defensive back Sam Coffaro who finished the game with seven tackles of his own, and senior tight end Jordan Dugan who had a 38-yard reception to set up Porter’s field goal.

Senior defensive tackle Pete Folzenlogen left the game in the fourth quarter with bruised ribs, but said that he is good to game for tonight’s game against Tunica Rose Fort. He also said that the win was just what the team needed after losing to McDonough the previous weekend,

“It was a great win. Coming off a tough loss was just what we needed to fire the team up. But anyway yeah I’ll definitely be playing this Friday.”

A notable part of the game was that University of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, Kentucky assistant Vince Marrow and Ohio State assistant Kerry Coombs were among the college coaches in attendance, probably expecting a dominating performance from the team they already have commits from, but instead trying to scribble down the names of the other team, probably misspelling “Faillace.”

The Panthers, who on MaxPreps went from being the 84th nationally ranked team down to 27th, agree that while it was a fun win, it’s time to come back and play hard in tonight’s game.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence because we know we’ll win if we work hard and play as a team,” Faillace said.

“We can’t get caught up in all the hype”, said Orloff. “We have to move on keep getting better for our next opponents.

Yeah it was a great win and it’s fun to live in the brief moment, but it’s time to come back to reality and do our job tonight against Tunica. This game is now in the past, and it’s back to another night of taking care of business on our home turf.

Go to the game tonight. Wear purple. Cheer loud. And show Tunica why the number one team in the nation couldn’t handle us.

ELDER ELDER ELDER!!! GO PANTHERS!