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Ursuline hammers Brookfield, 52-14

Staff photos / Greg Macafee Ursuline tailback Christian Lynch stiff arms a Brookfield defender during the Irish’s 52-14 win over the visiting Warriors. Lynch tallied 106 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

YOUNGSTOWN — Ursuline quarterback Jack Ericson has been patient, waiting and biding his time.

He backed up former Irish starter Brady Shannon for the past couple years, learning a lot from the record-breaking quarterback in the process.

“I learned so much from him — how to be a leader and how to really command the offense and get the guys going,” Ericson said. “I think he definitely helped me throughout the years to build myself up for this moment to lead the team.”

But Thursday night was finally his moment — his chance to show what he could do leading the Irish.

After winning the starting job for the Irish during summer practices, Ericson made his second official, but first “real” start Thursday, leading Ursuline to a dominant 52-14 win over Brookfield at Youngstown State’s Stambaugh Stadium to open the 2022 season.

“Coming in, I felt super confident — I felt really good about the work we put in this offseason and how the coaches prepared us,” Ericson said. “The coaches have been there, done that. So they know their way around the game, and they put us in a good position to win. I knew my brothers had my back, and we went out and attacked from the get-go.”

Ericson showed sharp command of the offense early on, leading the Irish on a touchdown drive in the first two minutes of the game, capped off by his own 21-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.

By the end of the first quarter, Ursuline had built a 21-7 lead over Brookfield, and the Warriors had no answers for the Irish offense.

Ericson finished 9-for-13 for 178 yards and a touchdown through the air, while carrying the ball six times for 55 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

“I thought he was efficient, and I thought he made good decisions,” said Ursuline head coach Dan Reardon. “Those two things are critical for the success of our offense. We put a lot almost every play on the quarterback reading something, whether it’s a pass or a run. Without looking at the film, he appeared to make a lot of the correct decisions.

“I’m sure there’s stuff we’ll be critical about tomorrow, like he missed a couple deep balls. But he’ll be the first to tell you that he needs to fix that, and I thought he did a good job, and it’s definitely something to build on.”

After falling into a 14-0 hole, Brookfield put together a methodical touchdown drive to get on the board and cut into the deficit. Quarterback Donovan Pawlowski finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and was the main source of offense for the Warriors throughout the game. He finished with 91 passing yards and 97 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

But each time the Warriors’ offense appeared to pick up any momentum, Ursuline’s defense rose to the occasion — intercepting Pawlowski twice, including a pick six in the third quarter by D.C. Ferrell, and racking up nine tackles-for-loss.

“The interception in the first half was a gamechanger and also the squib kick that we didn’t get and they got,” said Brookfield head coach Randy Clark. “They got two touchdowns on two possessions right there, and that set us back. Our kids were believing, believing, believing, and I think it took some wind out of our sails. I’m glad we played (Ursuline) though. It tells us where we’re at. We’re going to go back to work and get better.”

Clark was also critical of his team’s effort levels at times throughout the game.

“I see there’s a few people on our team that don’t need to be on a varsity field right now, and we’re going to make some changes and correct that,” Clark said.

Ursuline’s fast-paced, tempo offense often kept Brookfield’s defense on its heels, and the Irish were able to take advantage of that.

“(Tempo) is a big part of who we are,” Reardon said. “Our kids take a lot of pride in their conditioning in the offseason, and they hold themselves to a high standard. We could tell our conditioning was wearing on them a little bit.”

Ferrell made his debut for the Irish after transferring from Liberty, ending up with 102 receiving yards on three catches to go with his pick-six on defense. Christian Lynch also had his first start for Ursuline, racking up 106 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

“There’s still going to be mistakes that we made that we have to clean up and that’s always our message,” Reardon said. “It doesn’t matter what the score was, come in tomorrow and be critical of the performance, and let’s fix mistakes and get better before next week.”

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