A passing fancy for Big Red

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Two big passing plays helped Big Red put up the points. A big pass breakup helped seal the victory.

With its 22-20 win over Maysville, Steubenville rolls into the Region 13 championship thanks to critical plays on both sides of the ball.

Though shorthanded, Big Red made sure it wouldn’t be short-changed.

On its first possession of the second quarter, on just the second play of the drive, quarterback Mandela Lawerence-Burke scrambled in the backfield and for a split second was able to set his feet.

A split second worth 57 yards.

Lawrence-Burke hit wide receiver Lucas Herrington over the middle and the junior was free to run from midfield for Big Red’s first score. With a John Paul Duff extra point, the score was tied at seven.

On its first possession of the second half, Steubenville began on its own 33-yard line after stopping Maysville on a three-and-out. Eight plays brought Big Red inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line, but a holding penalty took them out of the red zone completely.

The penalty, one of nine for Steubenville, backed the offense out to the 34. Just one play after brought it in the endzone.

Lawrence-Burke dropped back and delivered a perfect pass in the right corner of the endzone to Herrington, again. At the 6:51 mark of the third quarter, Big Red was up 22-14.

For the rest of regulation, it was on the defense to hold on.

The unit rose to the occasion.

“We made some big plays on offense and some big plays on defense when we needed to,” Steubenville coach Reno Saccoccia said.

Though Maysville, which finishes the season at 8-4, scored on its next possession nothing could get going after that.

Nine plays, and a 15-yard personal foul on Steubenville, allowed the Panthers to march from their own 37 into the endzone. Big Red broke up the passing two-point conversion attempt, which fired up the defense for the fourth quarter.

Though Chase Roberts sparked a drive with a 29-yard run to start the quarter, William Harvey, Johnnie Blue and Amir Richmond were in on three plays on that drive that backed Maysville up for a total loss of nine yards. The possession ended in a missed field goal by Nate Vallee. The 31-yard miscue was his second failed field goal of the night.

In all, the defense made 12 stops in the backfield. On the final possession, though, the secondary made the big plays.

Panther quarterback Jacob Miller threw three incomplete passes with 83 yards in front of him and a time of 1:28 behind him on the newly constructed Red Devils Stadium scoreboard. With 1:03 left, Miller stepped back and tried to find wide receiver Judd Murvine. In his way was Herrington, who broke up the pass.

Herrington made seven catches for 133 yards and finished with three pass breakups.

“I asked the kids for a couple of big plays and we got them,” Saccoccia said.

With starting Big Red running back Robert Hayden injured after just two carries, Blue took a bulk of the carries with Dondre Brown, Perrier Coleman, Garon Lytle and Devin Ferguson seeing time in the backfield.

“We lost too many kids quick in that game,” Saccoccia said. “We have to get some kids healthy this week.”

Lawrence-Burke ran 11 times for 31 yards with a long of 26. On a run of 8 and 16 yards in the second half, he hurdled a defender on the line of scrimmage.

Maysville also utilized its variety in the backfield with five players combining to run 40 times for 159 yards.