Island paradise for Madonna
WEIRTON – Madonna capitalized on Williamstown mistakes and scored three third-quarter touchdowns in the span of 5:07 to again come from behind and win the Class A semi-final game 42-28 Friday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
The victory punched the Blue Dons’ ticket to the state championship game on Wheeling Island for the second year in a row. They will play one week from tonight against the winner of today’s game between Magnolia at Greenbrier West.
Madonna and Williamstown were battling away with the score tied at 21-21 midway through the third period when two consecutive personal foul penalties against Madonna proved to be advantageous to the Blue Dons.
The Yellowjackets put the opening kickoff of the second half in play at their own 23 and marched to the tying touchdown in 11 plays plus a personal penalty during the first play of the drive.
The Yellowjackets scored when senior tight end Brandon Root eluded Madonna’s Will Bowser in the end zone and caught a four-yard pass from Jake Tracewell. Bowser laid a hit on Root and the back referee threw a flag for a personal foul on the play.
As Kade Kiselica kicked the extra point, a Madonna player was called for another personal foul of roughing the placekick holder.
Those two personal foul penalties were marched off consecutively on the kickoff giving Kiselica the opportunity to kickoff from the Madonna 30-yard line.
Bowser more than made up for the penalty against him when he fielded Kiselica’s on-side boot on a high bounce at his own 23 and sped straight up field 77 yards for a touchdown with the play changing the momentum of the game in the Blue Dons’ favor.
“You never think that two personal fouls on the same series would come out to work in your favor, but it did,” said Blue Don coach Doug Taylor. “They got to kick from our side of the 50 and the kick just went into Bowser’s hands and he took it to the house.”
Bowser said he first thought of just falling down and covering the football as players normally do with on-side kicks.
“I saw a hole and just cut it right out and no one saw me after that,” said Bowser, who is one of the fastest players on the Blue Don club. “It was a perfect bounce. I’m used to baseball and seeing the ball in the air. I guess I got lucky with that bounce. It was perfect right up to my chest.”
Williamstown coach, Terry Smith, said they decided to make the on-side kick because the worst that could happen would be they’d cover it and it would be the deepest field position that the Yellowjackets would have put Madonna in all night.
“The ball took a perfect bounce and whether he was looking for that or not, the guy made a super play,” Smith said. “That’s the story tonight. They made some plays and we didn’t.
“I don’t think the play did anything to change the momentum. Momentum is for you guys in the media to talk about. For us the game is played with blocking and tackling. That’s what wins football games – blocking and tackling. That’s what I think.
“In a game like this you just can’t make a mistake. You get a motion penalty (his team was called for eight penalties, three were procedure calls on offense and two were defensive offside) or drop a pass or fumble. Against a team that is real good like Madonna, you just can’t afford to make a mistake.”
Senior quarterback Ross Comis accounted for 214 total offensive yards in the game to go over the 9,000-yard mark for his high school career. He gained 142 on the ground and 72 through the air.
After Bowser’s spectacular kickoff return, Comis went into the end zone on runs of 13 and 6 yards to complete the third period blitz and seal the victory for the Blue Dons.
After his 13-yarder, the Yellowjackets fumbled the football on the second play of the next series with Blue Don senior Nate Guio pouncing on the loose pigskin deep in Williamstown territory at the 37-yard line.
The Yellowjackets got one of their off side penalties on the first play then Comis reeled off the 8-yard run and the other part of Madonna’s dynamic duo, Eliott Nero blasted through for 18 more setting up Comis’ 6-yard dance to pay dirt.
The Yellowjackets capitalized on the first miscue of the game when a center snap sailed over Comis’ head on Madonna’ first possession of the game. The line of scrimmage had been at the Williamstown 41, but by the time sophomore Blake Eddy chased down the football, the Yellow Jackets started a scoring drive in Blue Don territory at the 37.
Eleven plays later, Williamstown opened the scoring with a 2-yard pass from Tracewell to fullback David Hastings. Kiselica gave the Yellow Jackets the early 7-0 lead with his extra point boot.
Madonna, however, got the offense rolling in the second quarter scoring with a 12-yard Nero run in which he started up the middle, but saw an opening to his right, stopped on a dime and reversed his angle to the end zone.
Later Comis went straight up the middle on a 9-yard scoring jaunt to give the Blue Dons their first lead.
Hastings knotted the game at 14 with Williamstown’s next possesion when he blasted to pay dirt from the one.
It didn’t take the Blue Dons long to retaliate as Comis found Nero open on a little flair pass that covered 26 yards with Nero breaking a tackle on the 5-yard line en route to the end zone. That gave the Blue Dons a 21-14 halftime lead.