ELYRIA — Elyria Catholic opened the football season with a night of firsts.
The Panthers scored a touchdown on their first offensive play, and a touchdown on their first snap of the second half.
Sophomore Alex Alicea scored a touchdown the first time he touched the ball, and defensive end Joe Fitch also reached the end zone for his first TD after picking off a Cleveland East pass.
Needless to say, Ben Malbasa got his first victory in his first season at the Panther helm. It was an easy one: EC 49, Cleveland East 0 at Knights of Columbus Field on Friday night.
The Panthers retrieved the game ball for their coach.
“They gave me the ball,” said Malbasa. “They should have given themselves the ball. They do all the work.”
EC had 338 total yards while holding the Blue Bombers to 80.
“I think we played basic run defense pretty well,” said Fitch. “They have big-play capability, but our overall defense did well containing the quarterback.”
East quarterback Christian Wynn had 95 yards total offense, but the rest of the team was held to minus-15. East had one big play — a 55-yard swing pass from Wynn to Derek Dowdell that carried to the EC 10 — but the Panthers threw the visitors back to the 23, where they took over on downs.
By that time the game was safely in the bag. East’s first offensive series ended in disaster as a fumbled punt snap resulted in EC gaining possession on the 1-yard line. Jayson Graham, who had 153 yards rushing and two TDs, scored on the first play and Vince Scarpelli kicked the first of seven extra points.
EC drove 68 yards on its next possession to score, with Alicea getting the final 21.
Fitch’s 47-yard interception return made it 21-0.
“I was going upfield and I saw the running back go up,” Fitch said. “Then I saw he was ready to throw and I went up and got it.”
He made a one-handed catch and showed some strength and speed to get into the end zone.
“I almost got caught,” he said. “The quarterback is very fast.”
After that, Richie Baker returned a punt 70 yards for a score. EC had only 73 yards of offense at that point and still led 28-0.
The second half was played with the threat of severe weather, and oddly neither half was completed. Officials ended the first half with 2:54 left on the clock and the game with 6:12 left. East High coach Marzell Pink, at halftime, refused to agree to shorten the game, and the Panthers made the visitors pay.
Graham ran 60 yards with an option pitch on the first play of the third quarter to up the lead to 35-0.
Touchdowns by Nick Betka and Cody Schuster followed and subs played the last six minutes of the game.
“We’re not where we want to be,” Malbasa said. “We can be a better team when we have more discipline, but I like where we are now.”
FIRST GAME: In many ways this looked like a first game — sloppy on both sides. On East’s first possession five penalty flags were thrown in a span of 2½ minutes. Two of the penalties offset.
Contact Roger Negin at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Catholic 49, Cleveland East 0
East 0 0 0 0 — 0
EC 21 7 21 0 — 49
EC—Jayson Graham, 1 run (Vince Scarpelli kick)
EC—Alex Alicea, 21 run (Scarpelli kick)
EC—Joe Fitch, 47 interception return (Scarpelli kick)
EC—Richie Baker, 70 punt return (Scarpelli kick)
EC—Alex Alicea, 21 run (Scarpelli kick)
EC—Graham, 60 run (Scarpelli kick)
EC—Nick Betka, 2 run (Scarpelli kick)
EC—Cody Schuster, 10 run (Scarpelli kick)
First downs 4 12
— by rushing 3 8
— by passing 1 4
— by penalty 0 0
Yards rushing 36 254
Yards passing 44 84
Total offense 80 338
Passes att./comp. 21/7 18/8
Intercepted by 2 2
Fumbles/lost 3/1 2/1
Penalties/yards 4/35 7/43
RUSHING — (E) Christian Wynn 14-53, Sam Cooke 3-6, Rogrell Ross 5-(-15), Leonard Martin 3-2, Team 1-(-10). (EC) Jayson Graham 8-153, Alex Alicea
4-46, Cody Schuster 4-40, Richie Baker 1-13 Vince Scarpelli 1-8, Nick Betka 1-2, Team 1-(-8).
PASSING — (E) Christian Wynn 6-20-42-2-0; Demetrius Menefee 1-2. (EC) Cody Schuster 8-17-84-2-0; Vince Scarpelli 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING — (E) Derek Dowdell 5-47, Robert Taylor 1-(-2), Same Cooke
1-(-1). (EC) Danny Accorti 1-28, Pat Flanagan 2-16, Jacob Schuster 2-19, Richie Baker 2-15, Jayson Graham 1-4.