La Salle takes back King of the Road trophy

FINNEYTOWN, Ohio – La Salle used a late defensive stand in the red zone during the final seconds to win its first King of the Road trophy from St. Xavier since 2016 by pulling out a 22-15 win at Ballaban Field.

The La Salle defense, which has only given up an average of 3.9 points per game, was dominant for most of this battle. The Lancers, who came into the game as the top defensive unit in the GCL South, recorded five tackles-for-loss and broke up a total of eight passes.

La Salle needed its defense to help out as the offense struggled in the second half. The St. Xavier defense shutout the Lancers while forcing a pair of second half interceptions.

In the third quarter, La Salle was driving deep into St. Xavier territory when Gabriel Dubios intercepted a pass and ran it back 36 yards into Lancer territory.

The Bombers turned the takeaway into points when Matthew Rueve threw a 20-yard pass to Liam Clifford cutting the La Salle advantage to 22-13.

In order to make it a one-score game, St. Xavier went for the two-point conversion. Rueve was flushed from the pocket and found Clifford in front of the goal line. Clifford fought his way past two would be tacklers making it into the end zone shaving the Lancers lead to 22-15.

La Salle’s offense was lead by Zach Branam who combined for 298 yard total yards of offense. The dual threat quarterback rushed for a game-high 135 yards and threw two touchdown passes to DeVonte Smith.

In the fourth quarter, the Bombers had one last chance when Tucker Hundley intercepted a Branam pass on the St. Xavier seven-yard line with 2:11 left in the game.

With La Salle leading 22-15 the Bombers quick play offense drove to the La Salle 6-yard line when Rueve completed a 16-yard pass to Clifford.

That’s where the Lancers defense stiffened one last time in the red zone forcing three consecutive incomplete passes salting away the victory for La Salle.

La Salle got on the board first when Cam Porter took a direct snap out of the wildcat formation and ran it one-yard for the game’s first touchdown. The extra point attempt failed but the Lancers still lead 6-0.

St. Xavier was able to string together a 12-play drive that culminated in a three-yard touchdown run by Bombers running back Kellen Newman. The extra point by Mason Rohmiller gave St. Xavier a 7-6 lead in the opening seconds of second quarter.

Just as St. Xavier looked to be on steady footing, La Salle struck fast. On the first play of the ensuing drive Branam threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Smith giving the Lancers a 13-7 advantage.

La Salle extended its advantage to 22-7 at halftime thanks to 32-yard field goal by Jake Seibert and a second touchdown pass caught by Smith from Branam.

Smith lead La Salle’s receiving attack with five receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

There were many great performances by the La Salle defense who was lead in tackles by Max Roberto-Bailey with ten. Gi’Bran Payne accumulated eight tackles and had a key interception. Iesa Jarmon and Luke Theimann each knocked down two passes while recording eight and seven tackles respectively.

Rueve, who leads the GCL South in passing yards, finished 25-for-48 passing with 261 yards for St. Xavier. His favorite target was tight end Marshall Lang who caught 13 passes for 150 yards.

La Salle is now setup for a showdown in Week 10 that will decide the GCL South championship when the Lancers host the Elder Panthers.

La Salle 6-16-0-0 – 22
St. Xavier 0-7-8-0 – 15

L – Cam Porter 1-yard TD run (kick failed)
X – Kellen Newman 3-yard TD run (Mason Rohmiller kick)
L – DeVonte Smith 75-yard TD catch from Zach Branam (Jake Seibert kick)
L – Jake Seibert 32-yard field goal
L – DeVonte Smith 13-yard TD catch from Zach Branam (kick blocked)
X – Liam Clifford 20-yard TD catch from Matthew Rueve (Matthew Rueve pass good)

RECORDS: La Salle (7-1, 2-0); St. Xavier (6-2, 1-1)
UP NEXT: La Salle vs. Winton Woods; St. Xavier @ Cleveland St. Ignatius

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