STEUBENVILLE - Catholic Central was clicking on all cylinders Saturday as it rolled to a 54-7 rain-shortened homecoming victory over Conotton Valley at Harding Stadium.
The offense exploded for 350 yards, the defense recorded a touchdown and the special teams had two huge returns as the Crusaders improved to 4-2. The win clears the decks for this week's battle with Barnesville, which also has notched four victories in six starts.
For the second time this season, a Central contest had to end early because of weather. Just as the fourth quarter was beginning, lightning appeared in the skies near the stadium. Instead of enduring the mandatory 30-minute delay, both coaches agreed to let things stand.
ALLY OOP — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Zach Herrington hauls in a touchdown pass from Brenton Colabella during Saturday’s 54-7 weather-shortened win over visiting Conotton Valley.
In Week 2, the Crusaders and Frontier played roughly a quarter and a half before the game was called.
Ryan Fletcher got Central off to a flying start when he returned the opening kickoff 59 yards. Three snaps later, Brenton Colabella hit Luke Potenzini for a five-yard score and Central never looked back.
"We saw some things on film and thought we could set up a decent return," Steve Daley said. "Ryan popped it through there and that was really a huge lift for us to start that way. Then we scored three plays later."
Catholic Central 54, Conotton Valley 7
CV 0 0 7 0 - 0
Central 13 21 20 0 - 54
CENTRAL: Potenzini 5 pass from Colabella (run failed)
CENTRAL: Fletcher 3 run (Maslowski kick)
CENTRAL: Herrington 15 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
CENTRAL: DiCarlantonio 73 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
CENTRAL: Herrington 9 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
CENTRAL: Fletcher 15 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
CENTRAL: Laukert fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed)
CENTRAL: Maslowski 8 run (Romano kick)
CV: Carrothers 8 run (Bailey kick)
RUSHING: CV 34-147-1 (Cottis 6-15; Carrothers 5-19-1; Bowdish 5-16; Rodriguez 11-25; Riley 5-71; Hoover 1-3); Central 17-46-3 (Maslowski 6-36-1; Fletcher 1-3-1; Colabella 3-(-3); Romano 1-(-1); Potenzini 2-8-1; Murphy 1-13; Parise 1-(-2); Barber 2-(-8)).
PASSING: CV 7-16-183-0-2 (all by Cottis); Central 16-24-304-4-1 (Colabella 16-22-304-4-1; Barber 0-2).
RECEIVING: CV (Bailey 4-150; Bowdish 3-33); Central (Herrington 4-57-2; Laukert 3-57; Jones 1-32; Fletcher 3-60-1; DiCarlantonio 2-85-1; Potenzini 1-5; Maslowski 1-(-1); Romano 1-9).
FIRST DOWNS: CV 10; Central 16.
PENALTIES-YARDS: CV 9-87; Central 4-45.
PUNTS: CV 3-32; Central 0-0.
FUMBLES-LOST: CV 2-2; Central 1-1.
After the defense recorded its second three and out of the opening period, the quick-strike Crusaders found the end zone again. Starting at their own 42, they moved 58 yards in six plays. Colabella hit Kyle Laukert for 31 stripes then Fletcher burst off tackle from three yards away for the touchdown.
The Rockets, now 3-3, showed some offensive life late in the quarter and drove from their own 28 to Central's 49. That threat ended when Zack Herrington stopped Taylor Bowdish cold on a fourth and seven reverse.
Herrington quickly went from defensive playmaker to offensive touchdown maker. He and Colabella hooked up for 15 yards on an "alley-oop" to make it 19-0. Stone Romano tacked on the 20th point.
Laukert's interception, the first of two by the Crusader defense, stopped the next CV threat and Central needed just two plays to go 80 yards. Colabella hit Johnny DiCarlantonio for 12 yards. After a motion penalty, the junior quarterback went right back to his 5-foot-6 classmate for the final 73 stripes. DiCarlantonio broke open over the middle, hauled in the pass and motored his way to pay dirt. Romano's kick increased the CCHS advantage to 27-0.
Eric Schumacher's club was moving the ball again before the Crusaders came up big again. On third and long, Geno Taglione broke through to record a sack on Cottis.
The offense had ideal field position again, thanks to a nifty 40-yard punt return by Khalil Jones, who sidestepped a few Rockets and broke several tackles. Colabella and Herrington teamed up for another score from nine yards out. This time, Colabella rolled to his right as Herrington broke across the middle of the end zone. Colabella fired a strike and it was 34-0 Central.
Daley's gridders almost got another score just before the half. CV moved deep into Central territory. On fourth and 20 from the CCHS 24, Cottis tossed a pass into the flats; Crusader Michael Carapellotti picked it off, returning it 84 yards before being knocked out of bounds as time expired.
Central's final three scores came on Colabella to Fletcher pass for 15 yards (the scoring toss was lobbed over the outstretched hands of the defenders and into the hands of Fletcher), a Laukert fumble recovery in the end zone and an eight-yard jaunt by Maslowski.
The Rockets got on the board just before the game was called, Keaton Carrothers going in from eight yards away.
"I was real pleased with the effort all the way around," Daley said. "Those are the things we continue to work on each week and our effort is really starting to show and pay off. We need something like this to make our kids realize that what we are preaching and what we are doing each week is important."
Colabella, the leading passer in the area, threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, hitting on 16 of 22 attempts. Herrington had four catches. Laukert and Fletcher finished with three each.
Central ran 41 plays from scrimmage compared to 50 for Conotton Valley. The Rockets managed 330 yards of offense (147 on the ground and 183 through the air). They did, however, turn the football four times.
Brandon Bailey, CV's 6-7 wide receiver, grabbed four Cottis passes for 150 yards.
"We took care of making adjustments when we saw their kids go in motion and that was big," Daley said of his team's defensive effort to slow down CV's jet sweep. "They completed some passes but that's going to happen when you're throwing it out there to a 6-7 kid. I don't have anyone on the roster that big. I'm very pleased; overall our kids did a nice job."