No. 1 Big Red wears No. 7 Boardman down, now 4-0

Steubenville’s Abe Zane (left) rushes against Boardman on Friday. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

STEUBENVILLE — Big Red reeled off 28 unanswered points (three touchdowns coming in the second half) and rolled to a convincing 42-21 victory over previously unbeaten Boardman Friday at Harding Stadium.

Steubenville, now 4-0 and Ohio’s top-ranked Division IV team, had to come from behind three times in the first half and knotted the score at 21 when Jonathon Blackman caught a 5-yard pass from Javon Davis with 41 ticks left before intermission.

The second half was all Big Red. Blackmon caught another Davis scoring strike, this one from 37 yards out, and added an 86-yard scoring sprint. Davis and Gino Pierro hooked up for a 58-yard score on the first play of the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the Steubenville defense that allowed 196 yards during the opening 24 minutes completely shut down the Spartans, who entered as the No. 7 team in Division II. Boardman gained just eight yards during the final two quarters.

“That was a very good win,” Reno Saccoccia said after watching his Big Red take an 8-7 lead in its all-time series with Boardman. “The thing I liked the best about our effort was we fought for 48 minutes.

“We competed at a championship level this week. We didn’t do a real good job with our technique, and we didn’t finish at a championship level, but we competed at a championship level. We have to clean up our offense, clean up our defense and keep playing hard.”

Davis had a huge night for Big Red, completing 14-of-21 for 250 yards and five scores. He hit Blackmon from 39 yards out for Big Red’s first touchdown and also found DaJuan Jones for a 40-yard score.

Blackmon put together one incredible statistical line — three catches for 83 yards and three scores; three rushing attempts for 87 yards and a touchdown.

The now 3-1 Spartans took the opening kick and quickly marched 67 yards on six plays, helped along by a personal foul call against Big Red, which drew 10 total flags for 106 yards. The score came on an 11-yard run by Joe Ieraci. Steubenville quickly responded with the first Davis to Blackmon scoring toss.

Boardman jumped back on top on the first play of the second quarter when Mike O’Horo hit Domonhic Jennings on a middle screen, and the senior sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown. Big Red’s answer came on the pretty Davis to Jones pass.

Boardman went again with 6:21 left in the opening half thanks to O’Horo’s 53-yard scoring strike to Ieraci, who was injured later in the second quarter and never returned.

In the opening half, the two teams combined for 448 yards of offense. Big Red finished with 490, 237 on the ground and 253 through the air.

“We coached better and we played better in the second half,” Saccoccia said. “In the first half, we made some silly mistakes on both sides of the ball along with coaching, playing just about everything. At half time, we fixed it up. In the second half, we didn’t make mistakes and we kept playing physical.”

Big Red will welcome Pittsburgh USO to Harding Stadium next Friday.

Steubenville 42, Boardman 21

Boardman 7-14-0-0 — 21

Big Red 7-14-7-14 — 42

BOARDMAN: Ieraci 11 run (Fryda kick)

BIG RED: Blackmon 39 pass from Davis (Phillips kick)

BOARDMAN: Jennings 77 pass from O’Horo (Fryda kick)

BIG RED: Jones 40 pass from Davis (Phillips kick)

BOARDMAN: Ieraci 53 pass from O’Horo (Fryda kick)

BIG RED: Blackmon 5 pass from Davis (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Pierro 58 pass from Davis (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Blackmon 37 pass from Davis (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Blackmon 86 run (Phillips kick)

RUSHING: Boardman 35-44-1 (O’Horo 14-(-11); Ieraci 4-37-1; Jennings 15-24; Rodriguez 2-(-6)); Big Red 37-237-1 (Davis 4-31; Bernard 17-55; Mitchell 5-27; Blackmon 3-87-1; Agresta 1-7; Crawford 1-1; Montgomery 6-29).

PASSING: Boardman 9-23-170-2 (all by O’Horo); Big Red 16-23-253-5 (Davis 14-21-250-5; Agresta 1-1-2; Criss 1-1-1).

RECEIVING: Boardman 9-170-2 (Jennings 2-78-1; Forte 1-7; Ieraci 1-53-1; Miller 2-4; Coleman 2-15; Falleti 1-13); Big Red 16-253-5 (Jones 2-40-1; Pierro 2-77-1; Agresta 2-22; Zane 2-12; Rauch 2-17; Blackmon 3-83-3; Mitchell 1-1; Bernard 1-2; Haney 1-1).

FIRST DOWNS: Boardman 9; Big Red 17.

PENALTIES-YARDS: Boardman 5-47; Big Red 10-106.

PUNTS: Boardman 9-35; Big Red 9-37.

FUMBLES-LOST: Boardman 1-1; Big Red 1-0.