Elder survives and advances past Colerain

Brady Laber/

MASON, Ohio – The Elder Panthers scored 14 unanswered fourth quarter points to come-from-behind and win the Division I, Region 4 championship with a 28-21 victory over the Colerain Cardinals at Mason’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.

Elder avenges last year’s regional championship loss in which the Cardinals shutout Elder 42-0. Colerain had beaten Elder in the two previous matchups by a combined score of 84-11.

The Panthers had to overcome three turnovers in the first half and a seven-point halftime deficit to punch its ticket into the next round of the playoffs.

With Colerain leading 21-14, Elder scored two touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes. 

Elder went on a 12-play possession that was highlighted by 28-yard catch that tight end Joe Royer made along the sideline on a third down play. 

Royer capped the drive on fourth-and-goal from the five-yard line. Quarterback Matthew Luebbe lofted a pass high in the front corner of the end zone. The pass was thrown where only Royer could get to it and he “high pointed” the ball for a touchdown.

Sam Harmeyer added the extra point tying the game 21-21.

On the ensuing kickoff Colerain mishandled the ball and Elder made the tackle forcing the Cardinals to start on its own 10-yard line. Back-to-back penalties by Colerain forced a punt giving Elder the ball back near midfield with just three minutes left in the game.

The Panthers moved down the field looking for the go-ahead score. Luebbe was flushed from the pocket and raced toward the end zone with one man to beat. Brandon Sinclair had a hold of Luebbe’s jersey from behind but Luebbe’s momentum powered him into the end zone with 1:36 left in the game.

Colerain had one last chance but Elder’s Nicholas Seger intercepted a pass as time expired to clinch the 28-21 victory.

Luebbe, who struggled in the first half came back to pass for 243 yards on 23-for-30 attempts and rush for 170 yards on 29 carries.

Elder took an early 7-0 advantage when Luebbe threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Royer on the game’s first possession. Royer finished the night with a game high six receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

Thats when Luebbe committed the first of his three first half turnovers. The senior quarterback threw an interception that Deshawn Pace returned 72 yards to the house for a pick-six touchdown.

That play swung the momentum in the Cardinals favor. Next the Colerain offense struck with a big play as Hazmah Abdul Waheed raced 80-yards to the end zone giving the GMC regular season champions a 14-7 lead.

Luebbe tied the score 14-14 with a short touchdown run but Colerain was quick to answer.

Cardinals quarterback Freddie Johnson threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Myers with 46 seconds left in the half to retake the lead 21-14.

Luebbe fumbled with just two seconds left before the break and Colerain recovered at the 40-yard line. Pace took the direct snap and looked to have scored but stepped out of the bounds at the one-yard line.

That play could have very easily put Elder away but the Panthers were able to regroup in the locker room at the intermission and survive with the victory. 

Colerain played without starter Jaylen Thomas who was injured last week in an automobile accident shortly after the Cardinals win over Fairfield. As a tribute to Thomas, Pace wore uniform #2 in place of his fallen teammate.

Elder moves on to the state semi-final round where they will meet up with Springfield who defeated Dublin Coffman in the Region 2 championship game by a score of 7-3. The site of next week’s game will be officially announced this coming Sunday afternoon.


Colerain 7-14-0-0 – 21

Elder 7-0-0-14 – 28


E – Joe Royer 7-yard TD pass from Matthew Luebbe (Sam Harmeyer kick)

C – Deshawn Pace 72-yard interception return for TD (Cameron Ott kick)

C – Hazmah Abdul-Waheed 80-yard TD run (Cameron Ott kick)

E – Matthew Luebbe 1-yard TD run (Sam Harmeyer kick)

C – Isaiah Myers 36-yard TD catch from Freddie Johnson (Cameron Ott kick)

E – Joe Royer 5-yard TD pass from Matthew Luebbe (Sam Harmeyer kick)

E – Matthew Luebbe 24-yard TD run (Sam Harmeyer kick)

RECORDS: Colerain (11-2); Elder (11-2)

UP NEXT: Region 2 champion Springfield (12-1) site TBD

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