Dons roll again
WEIRTON – Any other day, a shot at redemption would be tops in Gabe Hypes’ mind.
Not necessarily on Saturday night at the snow globe that was Jimmy Carey Stadium.
“Getting revenge was probably the second most-fun part,” said Hypes, a Madonna senior. “I like playing in the snow a lot. It was a lot of fun.”
He took full advantage of the white, powdery playing surface by diving to recover a pair of squib kicks in the third quarter which aided the Blue Dons’ 77-50 win over Wahama in Round 2 of the Class A playoffs.
“I just ran down and got lucky and dove when I saw it,” Hypes said.
Still, thoughts of last season’s 43-42 loss to the White Falcons in the state title game lingered around the Madonna locker room.
“We talked in our pregame and all week,” said Blue Dons coach Doug Taylor. “It’s not about revenge, it’s about redemption. We thought we let something get away from us that we should have had. We felt that we definitely had to make a statement and that we were going to get that back.
“Sometimes you don’t get an opportunity to play a team like that a second time around.”
Madonna took full advantage of the rare chance.
“It was the next step to the ultimate goal which happened to be stopped by them last year,” said Blue Dons quarterback Ross Comis. “Coach told us that if we execute we’re not going to have a problem winning this game.”
Taylor also had a special project for the 15 Madonna seniors on Friday night.
“He had us write down our thoughts on this game,” Hypes said. “We all wrote down about 10 things of what it meant to us. We brought in our state runner-up plaque from last year. It was always what we were thinking about and now we just have to keep rolling on.”
Hypes’ first kickoff recovery came after a 46-yard touchdown run by Eliott Nero that put the Blue Dons up 49-22 with 7:38 left in the third. A six-play scoring drive followed.
On Matt Green’s next kickoff, the ball slipped through Ryan Thomas’ hands at the Madonna 36-yard line and Hypes slid in for the recovery. Nero then capped off a eight play scoring drive, putting the Blue Dons up 63-22.
“They were leaving that left corner open all night for us to kick it,” Taylor said. “We wanted to kick it through the first two rows and tell our guys to get down and try to cover it.”
On the White Falcons’ first two possessions, they covered 120 yards on 15 plays and each ended in scoring runs, led by Kane Roush’s 63-yard run.
It wasn’t as easy the next time they had the ball.
Marcello Biondillo recovered a Roush fumble as the second quarter got started, which led to a Blue Dons scoring drive putting them up 20-16 and securing the lead for the remainder.
Wahama’s next drive, not as easy either.
Hypes ransacked the White Falcons’ backfield and picked up a loose ball that fell through on a handoff.
Nero scored on Madonna’s next play – a 19-yard touchdown run after a kickoff return that he took almost 60 yards.
“The thing with those two stops, what really turned it around, was that we were able to score off of them,” Taylor said. “When you can score off turnovers – that’s big. It puts you in front where you want to be. We took them out of their game for a little while.”
Wahama didn’t run an offensive play in the third quarter, thanks to the Hypes’ recoveries and an 81-yard kickoff return by Roush. The all-state senior took back two more in the fourth quarter.
“He was very slippery,” Hypes said. “It was pretty slick out here and our hands were cold. But we’ll work on that for next week on special teams.”
Getting past the nemesis from 2012 allows the Blue Dons to face Williamstown next week.
“We’re just going to keep rolling,” Comis said. “We need one more win to get to the island and win it this time.”