Crusaders rock St. Mary’s at home away from home

ROUGH TOUCHDOWN — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Noah Fayak fights off St. Mary defenders for a touchdown on Saturday at Brooke Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WELLSBURG — Justin Hartzell threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Steubenville Catholic Central rolled to a 47-14 victory over St. Mary’s Saturday inside Brooke Memorial Stadium.

The speedy junior signal caller accounted for 226 offensive yards as the Crusaders won their third straight and improved to 5-2 on the season. St. Mary’s, based in Lancaster, N.Y. fell to 4-2.

Central entered the game ranked eighth in the Division VI, Region 23 computer rankings. Joe Eitel is predicting the Crusaders will remain in that spot when the new ratings are released this week.

“It was a good win for us,” Central coach Steve Daley said. “St. Mary’s was 4-1 coming in, and they had athletes, which I think was plain to see. We had some difficulty early on adjusting to their speed. It’s hard for us to simulate with our scout team in practice a team like this with the speed they have. But our kids adjusted, started taking better angles and took care of things as the game moved forward.”

After dodging a couple of early bullets (St. Mary’s recovered an onside kick to start the game then picked off a Central pass), the Crusader offense got rolling midway through the opening period. Hartzell found senior wide receiver David Miller running free in the Lancer secondary for a 65-yard score.

Following a fumble recovery by Craig Smith, Central struck again, this time on a 16-yard Hartzell to Noah Fayak pass. Seeing his first action since suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2, Fayak fought his way through a couple of Lancer defenders to find the end zone.

St. Mary’s cut the lead in half early in the second quarter on a tough 18-yard run by D’Jae Perry. The sophomore gained 51 yards in the first half before suffering an apparent concussion and sitting out the final 24 minutes.

Central scored for a third time with 1:09 left in the half when Hartzell and Fayak connected for a 36-yard touchdown. This time, Fayak went up between two defenders to grab the football and find the end zone.

“It feels great,” Fayak, a junior, said about his two-touchdown performance. “I’m just happy to be back with my teammates and happy I was able to help my team get this victory.”

After the defense recorded a stop to start the second half, Central got things going on the ground. Hartzell’s first rushing touchdown came on a 4-yard scamper.

A Kevin Cuervo fumble recovery gave Daley’s crew solid field possession on its next touch, and Hartzell finished the drive by sprinting 23 yards on an option play.

Smith got into scoring column on a 5-yard run with 1:56 left in third quarter, briefly bringing the OHSAA mercy rule to West Virginia.

The Lancers, however, responded. Getting great field possession due to two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Crusaders, St. Mary’s quickly moved for a touchdown. It came on a 19-yard pass from James Miller to Nicholas Marinaro.

On its next march, Central stayed with the ground game and Smith accounted for all 57 yards. His second touchdown, a 10-yard run, brought the running clock back into play.

After getting just 64 rushing yards in the opening half, Central amassed 139 during the final two periods.

“Early on, we went with the passing game because of what St. Mary’s was giving us defensively,” Daley said. “We were able to loosen them up with the pass. In the second half, we started to wear them down a little and were able to take control with the run game.”

Jordan Maul, Central’s 6-2, 315-pound junior lineman, agreed with his coach’s comment.

“This was a really important game for us,” he said. “The line really came together in the second half. We were able to get the job done and get a big victory.”

Hartzell completed six passes for 192 yards. Miller had three receptions for 102, while Fayak finished with 52 receiving yards. Geno DiBiase also had a 38-yard reception. Thanks to his second half showing, Smith ended with 124 rushing yards.

Central’s defense allowed 75 yards on the ground and 18 through the air.

“Coming off a shutout last week against Barnesville, our defense played pretty well tonight as well,” Daley said. “There still, however, are areas we need to improve. We have to be able to get better tackles going forward than we were tonight.”

Freshman kicker Jarred Roberts also returned to the Central lineup after missing four games with an injury. He nailed five of his six extra point attempts.

“He did a nice job for us tonight,” Daley said of Roberts. “It’s nice to have him back.”

Derek Johnson led St. Mary’s with 74 rushing yards on 17 carries. The Lancers did have issues holding on to the football, fumbling it away nine times and losing three (Alex Ialenti also had a recovery for Central).

The Crusaders will look for its sixth win this Saturday when Edison visits Harding Stadium.

Catholic Central 47, St. Mary’s 14

St. Mary’s 0-6-0-8 — 14

Central 14-7-20-6 — 47

CENTRAL: Miller 65 pass from Hartzell (Roberts kick)

CENTRAL: Fayak 16 pass from Hartzell (Roberts kick)

ST. MARY’S: Perry 18 run (run failed)

CENTRAL: Fayak 36 pass from Hartzell (Roberts kick)

CENTRAL: Hartzell 4 run (kick failed)

CENTRAL: Hartzell 23 run (Roberts kick)

CENTRAL: Smith 5 run (Roberts kick)

ST. MARY’S: Marinaro 19 pass from Miller (Miller run)

CENTRAL: Smith 10 run (run fail)

RUSHING: St, Mary’s 48-75-1 (Perry 14-51-1; Miller 13-(-31); Johnson 17-74; Byrd 1-1; Marinaro 2-(-2); Kobis 1-(-18)); Central 36-203-4 (Hartzell 5-34-2; Smith 23-124-2; Thompson 2-26; Dawson 2-8; DiBiase 1-12; Lefever 2-(-1);- Keeder 1-0).

PASSING: St. Mary’s 3-6-18-1-0 (Miller 3-5-18-1; Kobis 0-1); Central 6-13-192-3-1 (all by Hartzell).

RECEIVING: St. Mary’s 3-18-1 (Marinaro 1-19-1; Perry 1-1; Lukasik 1-(-2)); Central 6-192-3 (Fayak 2-52-2; DiBiase 1-38; Miller 3-102-1).

FIRST DOWNS: St. Mary’s 10; Central 16.

PENALTIES-YARDS: St. Mary’s 5-32; Central 7-80.

PUNTS: St. Mary’s 4-20; Central 1-32.

FUMBLES-LOST: St. Mary’s 9-3; Central 2-0.