Colerain Represents Ohio With A ‘W'

It was billed as one of the top high school football games in the country. But it turned into just another dominating performance from Cincinnati Colerain. The Cardinals emerged with a 27-12 win over Robert E. Lee from Tyler, Texas in Friday's Herbstreit Challenge. We have comments from both sides, including Colerain's Connor Smith and Tyler Moeller.

Cincinnati Colerain did the Buckeye State proud on Friday with a 27-12 victory over Robert E. Lee from Tyler, Texas, in the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge at Crew Stadium in Columbus.

The Cardinals' triple-option attack was too much to handle and their defense was also impressive throughout the evening. Everyone expected a tight game, but Colerain (2-1) controlled things from the first quarter on.

Junior quarterback Gary Pride led Colerain with 21 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown. He was 0 of 1 passing.

Also for the Cardinals, junior running back Trammell Williams carried 16 times for 83 yards and a touchdown and senior running back Terrence Sherrer added eight carries for 83 yards and a score.

Senior guard Connor Smith – an Ohio State verbal commitment – came as advertised. The 6-5, 305-pound Smith is a devastating blocker and cleared the way for several big runs on Friday.

Tyler Lee (2-1) head coach Mike Owens was impressed with the power running attack from Colerain.

"You saw it, didn't you? They're good; no doubt about it," he said. "They've got some big, physical guys up front and some great skilled guys. The quarterback was real good. They're excellent."

The Red Raiders knew what was coming – a smash-mouth running attack – but they couldn't stop it.

"Yeah, (a lot of running is) exactly what we expected from them," Owens said.

Colerain head coach Kerry Coombs could not hide his excitement afterwards.

"I can't tell you how happy I am right now," he said. "I'm not trying to be smug, I'm just almost in shock.

"I watched (Tyler Lee) play on film and I knew they were a great football team. I went down and watched them in the spring and I knew they were a great football team. I'm just so proud of the way our team played. And I think there's a lot of factors. I think if you ask high school football players to come across the country and sit in a hotel and all that and then try and play a football game, that's a challenging thing. I think they had a natural disadvantage coming in. I wouldn't want to try and go to Texas and do what they did.

"But our kids, I was stunned with how we played. It just felt like we swarmed and scratched and clawed and held on. I am in awe of my players and I could not be more proud of them and the coaches."

Colerain got on the board first on a 28-yard touchdown run from Williams. It gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter.

Following a defensive stand from Colerain and a 22-yard punt, the Cardinals set up shop inside Tyler Lee territory. Two plays later, Pride broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run and with 2:13 left in the opening stanza, Colerain had a commanding 14-0 lead.

At the 9:30 mark of the second quarter, the Red Raiders got on the board when Hill hit Nathan Tucker for a 62-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked and Colerain led 14-6.

Colerain responded with an impressive drive. It was capped by a 9-yard touchdown run from Sherrer and with 6:01 remaining in the second quarter, the Cardinals led 21-6.

But Tyler Lee wasn't ready to quit. The Raiders came back with a drive of their own and Hill found a wide-open Justin Williams for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion failed and with 1:24 left in the second quarter, Colerain was hanging on to a 21-12 lead.

With no passing game to speak of, it looked as though Colerain might decide to run out the clock and go into halftime with a nine-point lead. But the Cardinals were not satisfied.

They drove the ball right down the field – using a variety of misdirection running plays – and eventually had the ball inside Lee's 10-yard-line. But they ran out of time and had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Matthew Schulte.

At halftime, the score was 24-12 Colerain.

On the opening possession of the second half, Pride lost a fumble at Colerain's 42, which was recovered by Tyler Lee's George Faber. Suddenly, the Red Raiders had some life.

But Colerain's defense – led by senior outside linebacker Tyler Moeller – held tough.

Tyler Lee worked the ball deep into Colerain territory, eventually earning a a first-and-goal at the 10. But a penalty, followed by a Moeller sack, pushed the ball back to the 25. A few plays later, a fourth down passing attempt was intercepted by Colerain's Williams. It was the final scoring threat of the evening from Tyler Lee.

"We had an opportunity," a dejected Owens said. "We got a turnover and I guess if we would have scored then, we may have had an opportunity to do something. But, that didn't happen."

Schulte – who is also an outstanding punter – added a 32-yard field goal at the 9:40 mark of the fourth quarter for the final points of the evening.

Although the Red Raiders were not happy with the way they performed, they were glad they made the trip to Ohio to experience the inaugural Herbstreit Challenge.

"It's great," Owens said. "We got in here and were treated real well, no doubt about it. Everything about it is class act. So, they shouldn't have any problems getting anybody else to come."

Tyler Lee's players and coaches will not attend Saturday's Ohio State-Texas game at Ohio Stadium.

"No, we're not," Owens said. "We've got a game next Friday against a pretty good football team, so we've got to get back."

Lost in the defeat was a gutsy performance from the 6-2, 200-pound Hill. He would not quit and made some nice plays for the Red Raiders.

"It was fun. I loved it," Hill said. "I wish we would have come out on the winning side, but they're a very good football team and I give (credit) to their coaching staff and their football team."

Hill was asked how Colerain compares to some of the better teams from Texas.

"Well, they're great," he said. "Down in Texas, we have some great teams too. We play all the big houses down there. That's exactly what we expected is that we would come here and play a good football team. They're a great football team."

As for Moeller, the 6-2, 205-pound ball of energy finished with (unofficially) nine tackles, two sacks and one tackle-for-loss.

"Tyler Moeller has a motor that runs like no kid that I've ever seen," Coombs said. "This kid right here (Smith) has got one too. But Tyler Moeller is a special kid. He goes from the first play to the last play and will give everything he has on every down. It's almost, you stand back and watch him and you think he can't keep on going. But he does. Play after play after play. It's a privilege to coach him because he's like that every day in practice."

Coombs couldn't help but be impressed with his offensive line, led by Smith. It controlled the line of scrimmage all evening.

"I thought they did a great job," Coombs said. "I think our offensive game-plan, our coaches did a really good job and I think our kids executed. You know, the triple option is an offense that takes a lot of time to learn and is hard."

Coombs admits he was nervous heading into the game.

"There's no doubt that many times this week I thought, ‘Now what do I do if we get beat 42-0?' Because there's no reference point as a coach," he said. "You're going out there and playing against guys that you don't know anything about the people they've played. I was really concerned with how that would play out and how that would affect our team.

"Now that it's over with, well, I got a lucky Buckeye in my pocket and I'm going to give it to Connor, because he's going to give it to (Ohio State head coach Jim) Tressel tomorrow night and we're going to see if that thing goes on its way and helps the Buckeyes with the Longhorns tomorrow night."

Smith had so many pancake blocks Friday, the only things missing were some butter and syrup.

"We felt prepared all week," Smith said. "We didn't play our best game, but I thought we played good enough to win. They're a really good football team and we just had a great week of practice getting prepared for them."

The Red Raiders knew that Colerain was going to run right at them. But they couldn't stop it. For an offensive lineman like Smith, it doesn't get any better than that. Colerain racked up 332 rushing yards on 53 attempts.

"Oh, it feels great," Smith said. "Coming off a week – our first week – when we kind of struggled (in a 7-0 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier), we really turned it up in practice. Our coaches worked us really hard and put in the game-plan and you've got to give credit to our coaches. It just feels great."

St. Xavier must have a very good team this year if it was able to knock off Colerain.

"They had a great game-plan and they have some great players over there," Smith said of St. X. "They're a great program in Cincinnati and we'll have to play them in the playoffs. They just played a great game that day."

Smith will be in attendance for the OSU-Texas game on Saturday.

"Yes sir. I've been looking forward to it," he said. "I don't see how it can get much bigger than Ohio State-Texas in week two. I'm going with my brother, my mom and my dad and my girlfriend. I think Tyler is planning on going."

Smith was asked if he's trying to talk Moeller into joining him as an OSU commitment.

"I don't think you really have to sell (Ohio State) very much, you know what I mean? He does an awful lot and he's going to make the decision that's right for him," Smith said. "He's thinking about it awful hard and he's a great guy. He'll make the right decision."

Moeller is a humble young man and tried to deflect any attention away from himself.

"I played all right," Moeller said in an understatement. "Our defensive line made things happen."

Moeller lined up at outside linebacker and defensive end and was turned loose all evening. He was asked what he likes most about playing football.

"Blitzing," he said.

Moeller was asked to explain how Colerain dominated the defending Texas big school champions.

"A lot of preparation, film, hard work in practice," he said. "They're a good team, but we played hard tonight. We played real well."

Moeller has scholarship offers from several schools, including Ohio State and Iowa, the two schools that are at the top of his list.

"Yes sir, and Miami of Ohio is in there too," he said.

When should fans expect a decision from Moeller?

"I'm not sure. I want to surprise you all."

He says he does not have a favorite at this point between the Buckeyes, Hawkeyes and RedHawks. "Not right now," he said. "I just want to make sure I'm 100 percent sure. I don't want to make any mistakes."

Moeller will be in the Horseshoe for Saturday night's showdown between the Buckeyes and Longhorns.

"Yes sir, never been to one before," he said. "Never been to an Ohio State game before. Connor Smith says it's real crazy, so I'm excited."

Moeller says Smith has been in his ear, trying to convince him to commit to OSU.

"Yes sir. He just wants me to go there," Moeller said.

Being in Columbus, Moeller was asked if he feels any kind of pull towards Ohio State.

"Yeah, but I can't let those things get to me," he said. "I've got to make the right choice for me."

Moeller might be a little bit undersized to play outside linebacker in college, but that's the position he wants to play. But he could also move to the secondary and play strong safety at the next level.

"I'm not sure. Time will tell," Moeller said.

Tyler Lee 0 12 0 0 – 12

Colerain 14 10 0 3 – 27

Colerain-Williams 28 run (Schulte kick)

Colerain-Pride 41 run (Schulte kick)

Lee-Tucker 62 pass from Hill (kick blocked)

Colerain-Sherrer 9 run (Schulte kick)

Lee-Williams 40 pass from Hill (pass failed)

Colerain-Schulte 24 field goal

Colerain-Schulte 32 field goal

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