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Big plays in a big game

November 1, 2013 - Matthew Peaslee
The biggest man on the field made, arguably, the biggest play of the game.

Madonna senior lineman Josh Martin took down Steubenville Catholic Central quarterback Brenton Colabella as time expired to close out Saturday's thrilling river rivalry.

"I saw him stepping up and I grabbed him as hard as I could and tore him down," Martin said after the Blue Dons beat the Crusaders, 22-17, to remain undefeated. "I don't care who it was. I saw him and had to go for him."

Not even 40 seconds before Martin's sack of Colabella, Madonna receiver Marcello Biondillo made a reception worthy of SportsCenter attention. Many Blue Dons players even took to Twitter and contacting ESPN for a chance to showcase small town football on a national stage.

Biondillo leaped high over Catholic Central defensive back Tony Barber, who had two interceptions in the game, and landed on the 1-yard line with ball in hand. The catch, a play made on fourth-and-11 from the 29-yard line, set up Ross Comis' 1-yard game-winning touchdown run two plays later.

"The corner was wide open," Biondillo said. "I was waving my arms hoping Ross would see me because I was wide open. He had to scramble around a little bit and I had to move up and get open again. I saw him scramble and shake a tackle and I knew he was throwing it deep to me."

Fielding his position on the crowded toss-up was the hard part, coming down with the catch was the easy part - believe it or not.

"That was just adrenaline," Biondillo said.

Comis finished with 96 passing yards, including that 28-yard reception. Defensively, the Catholic Central linemen did all they could to contain the All-State senior. Four guys pursued Comis as he took to the left side before setting his feet and firing down field.

"I ran around," Comis said. "I knew I didn't want to get sacked. I looked around and saw Marcello open in the back of the end zone. The guy is five yards away from him so I knew I wouldn't be able to get it to him cleanly on a 60-yard line drive, I just had to throw it up. "He's ridiculous. What an athlete. What a play."

Rewinding even more, on the Crusaders' final possession before Madonna's winning drive, the game could have been put away right there. Catholic went on a long drive after Ryan Fletcher returned Adam Robertson's kickoff from his own 14 to the 33. The Crusaders got the ball all the way to the Madonna 14, thanks in part to three penalties worth 35 yards. But, three Colabella passes fell incomplete with Will Bowser, who had two interceptions earlier in the game, broke up a fourth down pass in the back-right corner of the end zone.

"To prepare we did 7-on-7 a lot this week," Bowser said. "We tried to match their offense with our field. It takes a lot out of you running all over to catch up with their kids. They're so quick and we did a good job defending them."

Colabella, a four-year starter and 7,000-yard career passer, finished with 202 passing yards going 12 of 26.

Like his final play, Martin believes the entire game was a statement to West Virginia and Ohio.

"Everyone says that we have a weak schedule," he said, "but I think it showed right there that we don't. We're confident that we can play with anyone."

With two more regular season games to play (Toronto and Clay Battelle) and the playoffs on the brink, the win against Catholic Central was more than just the eighth notch on the Blue Dons' belt. It put Madonna on the map - literally.

While the pleas to SportsCenter didn't come true, Martin and his team have garnered national headlines for the win and Martin's height. The 7-footer has been tabbed by USA Today High School Sports, Bleacher Report and Yahoo for articles, this week.

"That last drive on offense," Martin said, "we're saying to each other, 'You know we hit that sled every day for something. We did two a days for something. Every little thing has meant something and it came down to this night."

A night with a big game, full of big plays, ended by a big man.


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