Mike Dyer reports:
Moeller senior quarterback Spencer Iacovone and his teammates were fired up after celebrating their national television win with a raucous and packed student section Sunday night at Kings High School.
Iacovone rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two as the host Crusaders defeated Gilman School (Md.) 35-14 in the 15th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown in front of an ESPNU audience.
“You know at Moeller we expect to play on this stage,” said Iacovone, who was named the team’s MVP for the game. “It’s fun to come out here and you get to play with all of your friends. It was a great time. You can’t complain to come out here and play for a great school.”
Sunday’s game was the finale of this year’s Showdown which featured 42 schools over 10 days this month.
Moeller coach John Rodenberg said he didn’t prefer playing on a Sunday, but he enjoyed the atmosphere at Kings during Sunday’s game.
“We love playing in these games,” Rodenberg said. “… Anytime you get a chance to play on this stage it’s great for the kids. It’s something they will remember for their whole life.”
Moeller (1-0) is ranked No. 1 in The Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll. The Crusaders are ranked No. 14 nationally by the USA Today Super 25 preseason rankings which were released Aug.1.
“What a fantastic team Moeller has,” Gilman coach Biff Poggi said. “The kids played so hard and clean … They are incredibly well-coached.”
Moeller played Sunday’s game near the site of its former home venue – Galbreath Field, which is a two-minute walk from the Kings campus.
Moeller’s first season at Galbreath was the fall of 1981 and it served as the Crusaders’ home field until the fall of 2002, according to the Moeller athletic department.
Moeller sealed the win on a key drive that started in the third quarter and was completed early in the fourth.
On third and 11, Iacovone found senior Max Foley for a 33-yard touchdown connection down the left side to help give the Crusaders a 35-14 lead with 11:21 left.
Iacovone finished 12 of 21 passing for 156 yards. Senior running back Keith Watkins rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown to also lead the Crusaders.
“Offensively, we have the ability to do a lot of things,” Moeller coach John Rodenberg.
Despite two rushing touchdowns from Gilman senior quarterback Shane Cockerille in the third quarter to close the gap to 28-14, Moeller was able to hold off the rally.
Moeller looked sharp on both sides of the ball early in Sunday’s game.
Moeller went up 28-0 with 2:06 in the second quarter when Iacovone scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Before that scoring drive, Moeller scored two touchdowns which were a direct result from turnovers – a blocked punt and a fumble recovery.
Moeller scored its second touchdown off a turnover in the second quarter when Iacovone found junior Gus Ragland in the left corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown reception to make it 21-0 at the 8:09 mark.
That score was set up after Moeller senior linebacker Jimmy Rodenberg caused a fumble and senior linebacker Shane Jones recovered at the Gilman 18.
Moeller went up 14-0 after Watkins took a 4-yard carry for a touchdown at the 9:05 mark of the second quarter.
That score was set up by a blocked punt by Moeller senior linebacker Nick Szabados who also recovered. Watkins scored on the next play – he had 104 yards rushing in the first half and was impressive all night.
The defense was impressive Sunday night during its first game under a new scheme implemented by new defensive coordinator Jim Lippincott.
Szabados had a team-leading six tackles. Jones had 5 ½ tackles, while Jimmy Rodenberg had 4 ½.
Iacovone put the Crusaders on the board first as he scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:37 left in the first quarter. That capped a 7-play, 56-yard drive that took 1:31.
Moeller next plays host to Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian at 1 p.m.