STEUBENVILLE - In just a shade more than three minutes, the bottom fell out of Indian Creek's first playoff appearance since 1996.
The Redskins stunned Friday's overflow Harding Stadium crowd by taking the opening kickoff and marching 76 yards for a touchdown. Then came that dreaded span of three minutes and seven seconds.
In that time, Big Red scored 21 straight points and dominated from there as it registered a 68-13 victory in Division III Region 11 quarterfinal action. The win advances Reno Saccoccia's 11-0 club into next week's semifinals where it will meet Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. The official site will be announced Sunday but early indications are the battle will be staged at Canton's Fawcett Stadium.
PLAYING DEFENSE — Left, Indian Creek’s Shane Winland tackles Big Red’s Eric Robinson and, right, Steubenville’s Teshawn Luke tackles the Redskins’ David Kemp during Friday’s Division III, Region 11 quarterfinal game at Harding Stadium. Big Red defeated Indian Creek, 68-13, to set up a semifinal game next week with Cardinal Mooney, a 42-22 winner over Canal Fulton Northwest.
-- Ron Gardner
Mooney advanced via a 42-22 win over Canal Fulton Northwest. In the other Region 11 openers, Dover outscored Sheridan 68-53 and Minerva nipped Poland 29-28.
Indian Creek, which earned a share of its first Buckeye 8 title this season, finishes at 8-3.
"It's a 48-minute game, no matter how you look at it," Saccoccia said. "They won the first two minutes and we won the rest of the game. I want to congratulate coach Andrew Connor, his staff and his players for a great season. They came out and played their game and we played our game. We just had more breaks than they did."
Big Red 68, Indian Creek 13
Indian Creek 7 6 0 0 - 13
Big Red 14 21 27 6 - 68
IC: Mike Furda, 12 pass from Kemp (Mattina kick)
BR: Luke, 1 run (Smith kick)
BR: Pierro 15 run (Smith kick)
BR: Robinson 27 pass from Prather (Smith kick)
IC: Ludewig 2 run (kick failed)
BR: Murray 53 pass from Prather (Smith kick)
BR: Luke 21 pass from Prather (Smith kick)
BR: Pierro 84 pass from Prather (Smith kick)
BR: Pierro 19 run (Smith kick)
BR: Luke 29 run (Smith kick)
BR: Otis 24 run (took knee)
BR: Glenn 12 run (took knee)
RUSHING: Indian Creek 33-70-1 (Ludewig 10-33-1; Kemp 6-(-50); Woods 1-31; Roar 1-2; Huynh 10-12; Hinerman 3-8); Big Red 46-386-6 (Pierro 16-162-2; Luke 7-74-2; Redman 3-21; Shackleford 1-12; Murray 1-(-5); Houst 1-5; Stinson 1-10; Glenn 4-40-1; Cole 1-2; Otis 1-24-1; Saltsman 1-9; Mays 5-42).
PASSING: Indian Creek 15-30-189-1-1 (all by Kemp); Big Red 12-18-260-4 (Prather 11-16-245-4; Stinson 1-2-15).
RECEIVING: Indian Creek (Furda 2-23-1; Young 3-73; Roar 6-54; Woods 1-7; Cummings 1-24; Kamarec 2-9); Big Red (Murray 2-69-1; Petrella 1-11; Robinson 3-33-1; Houst 1-16; Pierro 3-95-1; Luke 1-21-1; Saltsman 1-15).
FIRST DOWNS: Indian Creek 13; Big Red 28.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Indian Creek 5-40; Big Red 9-92.
PUNTS: Indian Creek 6-31; Big Red 1-31.
FUMBLES-LOST: O'Hara 1-0; Big Red 2-1.
Creek's seven-play scoring march was capped when David Kemp and Mike Furda hooked up on a 12-yard scoring toss. Fabio Mattina added the extra point. Furda, who was injured in the first quarter and didn't return, had two grabs for 23 stripes on the drive.
Big Red's first offensive possession ended in a three and out. The scoring barrage began the next time it touched the ball.
Taking over at its own three, the hosts marched 97 yards. The key play came when Big Red gambled on a fourth and three from its own 34. Lined up in punt formation, the hosts put the ball in the hands of William Houst on a direct snap. He plowed forward for five stripes and the first down. Several plays later, LeShawn Luke scored on a one-yard plunge. Luke Smith then hit the first of eight straight conversion kicks.
On Luke's run, Creek was flagged for grabbing his face mask. Thus, Smith teed the ball up at the Redskin 45. Saccoccia gambled again, calling for a short kick, which was recovered by Luke. Two plays later, Jo Jo Pierro sprinted 15 yards on a toss sweep play for the six-pointer.
The score went to 21-7 when Marcus Prather found Eric Robinson all alone over the middle. The pass and run covered 27 yards.
Creek did answer, going 67 yards in 11 plays. Mark Ludewig powered his way to pay dirt from the two. The extra point attempt failed.
Big Red would score two more times in the opening half. One came on a 53-yard Prather to Najee Murray pass and the second when Prather hit Luke for 21 yards. The Luke score was set up by a Matt Petrella interception.
After Creek held Big Red to a three and out on its first possession of the half, Steubenville responded with five straight scores. Three of Prather's final five passes in the first two periods resulted in touchdowns.
In the second half, Big Red scored the first five times it touched the football, meaning it went 10 for 10 in the possession to scores category from the first quarter on.
Pierro went 84 yards on a throwback screen pass, and then motored in from 19 yards away. Luke raced 29 stripes for a touchdown and Randy Otis zoomed 24 yards for six on his only carry of the evening. The night's last score came on a 12-yard burst by Chez Glenn.
Big Red's offense ran 64 plays for 646 yards. Pierro had 16 carries for 162 and Luke added 74 on just seven trips. Pierro also had 95 receiving yards. Prather had another stellar outing, hitting 11 of 16 for 245.
"I don't think our offense has changed all year," Saccoccia said. "We just have to eliminate mistakes. In the first series, we were misaligned. They came out in a defense we didn't expect.
"I thought our tailbacks did a good job of jamming their foot and cutting back that stretch play. We thought we could stretch them. They didn't want us too so we turned from an eight hole stretch to a six hole stretch. Our fullbacks did a good job of kicking out instead of hooking.
"Overall, our blockers did a good job of reading what they were doing defensively."
Creek finished with 70 yards on the ground. Kemp did pass 189. Blake Roar grabbed five Kemp tosses for 54 yards.
"The kids played hard," Connor said. "Things kind of got away from us. I am proud of the kids for the whole season.
"Obviously, when things get away from you like that, it falls on me as the head coach. I just feel disappointed for our kids that the season didn't end in a more positive way."