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A dominating second-quarter performance by Moeller that included 21 points and 173 yards of total offense lifted the Crusaders past Lakota East 46-20 and advance to Division I, Region 4 championship game. Senior running back Keith Watkins carried the ball just seven times on his way to 168 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Lakota East (#7 seed) got off to a great start by outgaining Moeller (#3 seed) 107 yards to 34 in the first quarter. The Thunderhawks' first drive lasted 14 plays, accounted for 80 yards and 7:35 of clock time. Eric Eichler’s only pass of the drive was a 35-yarder to Keith Brady that setup East first-and-goal at the3-yard line. Eichler punched it in three plays later to give the Hawks the 7-0 advantage.
Moeller was the recipient of excellent field position on the ensuing drive thanks to a 40-yard return by Andrew Kraus. Eight plays later Max Reiniger booted a 40-yard field goal to put the Crusaders on the board.
In the second quarter, Moeller reached the East 17-yard line thanks to face mask penalty at the end of a run by Moeller quarterback Spencer Iacovone. On the next play, Watkins sprinted into the end zone giving Moeller a 10-7 lead.
--Postgame Interview: Keith Watkins, Moeller
On Lakota East’s next play from scrimmage, Moeller’s Nick Szabados caused a Thunderhawk fumble that was recovered by Sam Hubbard. Two plays later it was Watkins again, this time from 40 yards and Moeller pushed out to a 17-7 bulge.
Watkins, a verbal commitment to Northwestern University, scampered for an 80-yard touchdown score just before halftime and the mighty men of Moeller had a commanding 24-7 halftime lead. Watkins ran along the near sideline before cutting back through the middle of the field and eventually crossing the goal line on the far side of the field.
Third-quarter rushing touchdowns by Joe Eramo (80 yards rushing) and Iacovone (95 yards rushing) pushed the advantage to 39-7 for Moeller.
East was not about to give as the Hawks put together an 8-play, 80-yard drive late in the third quarter. Eichler completed a pair of passes to Bobby Brown that complimented the triple-option run attack. Chamada Palmore, who led East with 98 yards rushing, scored on a 10-yard run around the right side to made the score 39-14.
Each team traded fourth quarter touchdowns to make the final score 46-20.
Moeller (9-3) moves on the Division I, Regional 4 championship next Saturday at Nippert Stadium against the winner of the Elder vs. Colerain matchup. Lakota East, who had never been to the playoffs in school history, ends its best ever season with an 8-4 record.
Brady Laber is a 2009 graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He is in his fourth season with TriStateFootball.com and has covered Northern Kentucky high school football since 2006. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.