None of the current St. Vincent-St. Mary players were alive the last time the Fighting Irish came out on top against Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. But no one would have guessed that was the case in the rain Friday night. The Irish used a stifling defense and the legs of Parris Campbell to out rush Mooney 399-0 to cruise to a 25-0 win at John Cistone Field at Green Street Stadium. Campbell, a senior, ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
St. V-M (4-0) had won just one meeting with Cardinal Mooney (2-2) in the past 22 meetings, and it hadn’t beaten the Cardinals since 1988, 25 years ago.
“We’ve had the ‘Mooney Monkey’ on our back since I got here,” St. V-M coach Dan Boarman said. “It’s just been a strange phenomenon. One of the things, they’re a fine football team. ... State championships speak for themselves. They’re a physical football team, and we knew to beat them we were going to need to be more physical.”
As the losing streak continued, Boarman upped the pressure on his players. This week, he treated it like the next game and nothing more.
“We’ve approached it a lot of different ways,” Boarman said. “We’ve made this game very important, almost putting too much pressure on the kids. We took the pressure off them.”
Cardinal Mooney couldn’t do much of anything on offense, particularly in the first half. St. V-M held the Cardinals to just one first down (which came with six seconds left in the second quarter) and five yards of total offense in the first half.
In the second half, the Irish forced turnovers on two of the first three plays from scrimmage. In the end, Mooney had zero yards rushing on 32 attempts and just 86 yards overall.
“Game plan coming in was to stop their run. That’s what we stressed the whole week of practice,” said senior Newman Williams, who had four tackles to go along with a 70-yard run in the first quarter. “I feel like we dominated and we did our job tonight. ... We could see they were getting frustrated on the first drive when we stopped them. They thought since they beat us all these past years they were gonna come in and do the same thing but we had a different mindset today, and we got the W.”
Senior linebacker Dante Booker led the defense with nine tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Senior Aaron Adkins had five tackles and a sack.
On the offensive side of the ball, Campbell ran for touchdowns of 12 and 75 yards and added two more carries that went for at least 30 yards, finding holes in Mooney’s front seven and using his state championship track speed to break runs open. Campbell needed only 15 carries to rush for his 178 yards, an average of 11.9 per attempt. It’s why every time he touches the ball there’s a chance he only stops after he hits the goal line.
“He makes things happen that probably wouldn’t happen,” Boarman said. “Instead of a 15-yard gain, it’s a touchdown. Instead of a 5-yard gain, it’s 20.”
St. V-M senior quarterback Aaron Bushner ran for 94 yards a touchdown himself. But he said having Campbell in the backfield with him adds another element.
“Parris, he’s just an amazing athlete,” Bushner said. “He’s a freak of an athlete. When the passing game ain’t going, just hand it to him and he’ll take over.”
The final score could have been worse, had it not been for senior cornerback Mark Handel. He intercepted Bushner passes twice inside of the Cardinals’ 2-yard line. He later had a punt return for a touchdown called back on a holding penalty.