TORONTO - After a bit of a slow start against the Toronto Red Knights, the Steubenville Catholic Central Crusaders rolled to a decisive 49-7 win Friday at Clarke Hinkle Field.
With Central leading 8-0 in a tight defensive minded contest, the Crusaders exploded for three touchdowns in the first half's final 3:58 as the they dominated in their most complete contest to date.
"They kept us in it until we made some adjustments up front to pick up their blitzing," said Central head coach Steve Daley of his defense. "Our defense hasn't been playing bad all year to be honest with you.
GETTING YARDS — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Luke Potenzini is tackled by Toronto’s Charles Ross III during the first quarter of Friday’s 49-7 win by the Crusaders.
"I thought the first half against Columbiana we played well, but we put together a complete game today.
"When we went to the ground game when things were comfortable, I was happy with the way that went too. It was just a complete game for us."
After Doug Maslowski's 1-yard touchdown and two-point conversion made the score 8-0 both defenses settled in until Central took the ball at their own 30 with 5:38 in the first half.
Quarterback Brenton Colabella completed back-to-back 16 yard passes to Ryan Fletcher and Zach Herrington followed by an 8-yard hook up to Kyle Laukert. On the next play he threw a swing pass to Khalil Jones, who looked bottled up for a loss by the Red Knights' defense. Jones made an outstanding individual effort to break free from the defenders and then scooted 30 yards for the touchdown. Stone Romano kicked the extra point for the 15-0 lead at the 3:58 mark of the second quarter.
Another superior individual effort, this time on defense, put Central up 22-0 two plays later. On second-and-one, Toronto's Blaze Glenn sent a pitch to his running back, but the ball never reached its destination as Chris Murphy stepped in front of the pitch, knocked it to the ground, scooped, and rambled 25 yards for the score. Maslowski kicked the PAT.
"That was big," said Toronto head coach Eric Meek. "They were shutting our offense down, and we were banged up a little bit. I was real happy at that point in our defense.
"I realize they were giving up some plays because they are really good on offense, but I was real happy. They have a good football team. We got backed up a little bit and we don't have enough kids ready to play on Friday nights with our youth and inexperience."
After forcing a three and out the Crusaders took over on their own 18 with 1:59 left in the half. Four plays later they scored again. Colabella hit passes of 38 and 37 yards to Laukert and Fletcher before connecting with Herrington for a 7-yard score. Maslowski's point after made the game 29-0, a score that stood at half.
Central officially put things away on the opening possession of the second half when Colabella hit Herrington for their second score, this one from 15 yards out. On the drive Laukert caught a 34-yard pass and Fletcher hauled in a 19-yard completion. Romano's extra point made it 36-0.
Toronto scored its only points on the ensuing possession. Blaze Glenn hit Kyle White for a 5-yard score set up by a Chez Glenn 38-yard reception. Zach Price's PAT made the score 36-7.
The Crusaders tacked on two more third quarter scores via the rushing attack. The first came on a 20-yard Maslowski run, and the second on a Luke Potenzini 1-yard plunge. Romano kicked the first extra point and the second was missed by Maslowski to set the final score at 49-7 Central.
The Crusaders racked up 508 yards of offense on the night. Colabella went 17-for-25 with 346 yards and three scores. Fletcher had five grabs for 118 yards, Herrington five for 96 and two scores, and Laukert four for 93.
"We don't really set things up where we call things for one person in particular," said Daley. "There's a lot of reads, and that's a credit to Brenton. He's seeing the reads, making the checks, and that helps out with our distribution."
The run game accounted for 150 tallies on 29 attempts with Maslowski picking up 72 on 11 touches and two scores.
Central's defense held the Red Knights to 140 total yards and forced three turnovers. Toronto's ran for 31 yards on 28 attempts.
"Their defense is much better than it was a year ago," said Meek. "In fact I told Coach Daley after the game that their defense shut our offense down better than anyone, and that includes Shadyside and Wellsville.
"I'm sure their defensive coaches have to be happy."
Toronto was hindered by injuries throughout the game, including the loss of senior Joey Chadwick.
"What was big for them was when Chadwick went down," said Daley. "He's a heck of a player. He was doing a nice job on Herrington early on, and that kind of hurt them. It opened some things up for us, and I hope he's OK. He's a nice player for them."
Added Meek, "We're a young team as is, and when Joey went down we started rotating guys around. We wanted Joey on 17 (Herrington) the whole game.
"After he went down it hurt us."
Both teams are in action Friday with Central (2-2) traveling to Oak Glen and Toronto (0-4) hosting Valley.
"This gets us to 2-2 with a big game coming up with Oak Glen," said Daley. "We have to try to do the best we can, and try to finish out the first half of the season with a winning record.
"We go right back to work tomorrow morning working towards Oak Glen."
Stated Meek, "We have to rebound. We were here two years ago at 0-4 and bounced back. We have some injury situations, and we're going to have to figure things out.
"I said back in August that Division VI football is survival of the fittest so we have to see what's going on here and hopefully move forward."
Central 49, Toronto 7
Central 8 21 21 0 - 49
Toronto 0 0 7 0 - 7
C: Maslowski 1 run (Maslowski run)
C: Jones 30 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
C: Murphy 25 fumble return (Maslowski kick)
C: Herrington 7 pass from Colabella (Maslowski kick)
C: Herrinton 15 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
T: White 5 pass from B. Glenn (Price kick)
C: Maslowski 20 run (Romano kick)
C: Potenzini 1 run (Kick missed)
RUSHING: Central 29-150-3 (Maslowski 11-72-2, Parise 4-11, Romano 3-29, Potenzini 3-21-1, Colabella 3-(-19), Barber 2-3, Fallon 1-20, LeFever 1-14, Jones 1-(-1)); Toronto 28-31 (Ross III 8-9, C. Glenn 6-22, B. Glenn 6-(-11), Cassella 4-15, Lawrence 2-(-1), Rawson 1-1, Chadwick 1(-4)).
PASSING: Central 18-26-358-3TD-0INT (Colabella 17-25-346-3TD-0INT, Barber 1-1-12-0TD-0INT); Toronto 9-20-109-1TD-1INT (B. GLenn 7-17-74-1TD-1INT, Chadwick 1-2-34-0TD-0INT, Rawson 1-1-1-0TD-0INT).
RECEIVING: Central (Fletcher 5-118, Herrington 5-96-2, Laukert 4-93, Jones 1-30-1, Parise 1-12, Potenzini 1-5, DiCarlantonio 1-2); Toronto (White 3-45-1, Ross III 3-23, C. Glenn 2-42, Starkey 1-(-1)).
FIRST DOWNS: Central 23; Toronto 5.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Central 7-66; Toronto 7-71.
FUMBLES-LOST: Central 4-1; Toronto 4-2.