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VASJ runs by Ursuline, 46-28

Staff photo / Joel Whetzel Ursuline’s Xavier Dahn (17) tries to bring down Villa Angela-St. Joseph’s Joseph Webb as teammate Will Burney (2) closes in on the play.

YOUNGSTOWN — Trouble stopping the run proved costly for Ursuline, as the Irish fell to Villa Angela-St. Joseph 46-28 Friday night at Stambaugh Stadium in a game that was scheduled on Wednesday.

The Irish (4-3) were gashed for 475 yards in the loss, which was a stark turnaround from the 47-21 victory UHS took over VASJ in last year’s postseason.

“We have to continue to get better. Our message doesn’t change win or lose,” Ursuline coach Dan Reardon said. “It doesn’t change. We’ll come in (today), watch the film, and we’re critical of our performance and we work hard to be coachable and fix it.”

The Irish originally were to play Boardman this week, but the Spartans were forced on Wednesday to cancel the game. Meanwhile, VASJ was supposed to play Conneaut (PA) today, but low numbers in that program forced a cancellation.

The Vikings (5-1) used a committee approach at tailback throughout the game, but it was Ty Howard who led the charge. Howard racked up 199 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries.

His performance was bolstered by Levontae Thornton and Joseph Webb, who added 152 and 101 yards, respectively. Thornton also scored twice in the VASJ win.

“(We had) too many missed tackles,” Reardon assessed. “We had chances at times to get stops, and they broke tackles or we missed them, and they made us pay.”

And while the Viking offense kept plowing, Ursuline’s sputtered at times.

The Irish got off to a quick start on a 30-yard touchdown run from DeMarcus McElroy to go up 8-7 in the first quarter, but they wouldn’t strike again until the second half. McElroy ran for 145 yards and his score on 24 carries.

VASJ took a 13-8 advantage into halftime after Thornton ran in a 6-yard score in the second quarter.

The second half started much the same way, as Ursuline marched 78 yards and capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Brady Shannon to Dean Boyd.

VASJ, however, answered with a 6-yard Howard touchdown, and then Howard tacked on a 3-yard score to put the Vikings up 26-14 headed into the fourth quarter.

From there, the teams traded scores as Shannon threw for two more touchdowns — the first a 20-yard strike to Marc Manning and the other a 1-yard throw to C.J. Frasco — while Howard added scores from 15 and 36 yards out.

In all, VASJ scored on five of its second possessions in the second half.

Of the up-and-down performance of his offense, Reardon said, “In the first half we had a couple (false starts) that put us behind the sticks a little bit and got us off schedule. They got us for a couple sacks here and there, and we were playing from behind the sticks too frequently to get things going.”

Shannon was dropped for losses four times on the night, often after scrambling around. He finished with 175 yards passing and three scores. Boyd collected four of those throws for 74 yards, while Manning had three catches for 38 yards. Manning also came up with an interception as the first half expired.

Both teams struggled with penalties, as Ursuline was flagged six times for 35 yards while Villa Angela-St. Joseph was dinged 11 times for 90 yards.

Ursuline has now lost two in a row, and finishes the season with matchups against Youngstown East and Cardinal Mooney.

Ursuline and VASJ entered at Nos. 2 and 7, respectively, in the Division IV, Region 13 standings.

With an eye to the future, Reardon concluded, “If we want to get out of our region, we have to play them again at some point, and I can’t wait for it.”

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