No. 1 Steubenville made Ursuline pay

HANGING ON — Steubenville’s DaJuan Jones hauls in a pass against Youngstown Ursuline on Friday. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

STEUBENVILLE — Youngstown Ursuline coach Larry Kempe has been around long enough to know effort alone doesn’t win football games.

“I do believe that compared to a week ago (a loss to Aquinas Institute of Rochester, N.Y.), our kids played with much more effort,” he said after his Irish fell to unbeaten Big Red 37-6 Friday at Harding Stadium. “Against good teams, however, effort just isn’t good enough.

“When you play the caliber of team we played this evening, you can’t drop the football and you can’t made bad decisions on special teams. We gave them a short field several times. There was just a plethora of things we created for ourselves and right now, we’re just not good enough to overcome those mistakes.”

Big Red made Ursuline pay for a couple of its mistakes and dominated play on both sides of the ball.

Ohio’s top-ranked Division IV club rolled to 336 yards on offense while holding the now 2-5 Irish to 69 (the visitors were in the negative yardage category before Big Red began to substitute freely in the fourth quarter).

“I thought it was a beautiful effort on both sides of the ball,” Big Red’s Reno Saccoccia said. “Our defense gave us another great performance and we showed improvement on offense.”

“We prepared well this week and I thought we were ready to play from the start. I’m happy with the effort our players gave us tonight.”

Big Red, which now owns an 11-4 lead in its all-time series with Ursuline, turned its first possession into points, marching 53 yards and using 6:27 of the opening quarter clock. The score came on a fourth and goal from the Ursuline 6. Quarterback Javon Davis rolled to his left, stopped, turned to his right and found DaJuan Jones alone in the end zone.

On its second touch, Steubenville traveled 50 yards for a score, Caleb Mitchell doing the honors from 5 yards away. The drive featured a 37-yard Davis to Jones connection. Davis’ pass was tipped by an Ursuline defender, Jones grabbed it and sprinted down the sidelines.

Saccoccia’s crew got the ball right back when Ursuline fumbled Ian Phillips’ ensuing kickoff, Taveon Crawford recovering at the Irish 15. On the first snap of the second quarter, hard-running Jacob Bernard fought his way in from the Ursuline 4.

“I think we played very well but when the score got to 21-0, I think there was a little bit of a letdown,” Saccoccia said. “All in all, though, we gave a championship effort tonight.”

Ursuline, which played without starting tailback Joe Floyd, finally recorded a first down with 3:38 left in the half. It came thanks to a nice run by Trezahn Donlow. During the opening 24 minutes, the Irish ran 20 plays for a negative nine yards.

“He was ill all week and hopefully we get him back next week,” Kempe said of Floyd, who had more than 800 rushing yards in the first six games. “That just gave three other guys an opportunity. One scored (Mario Fusillo), a sophomore (Dalvon Jones) ran the ball very hard and I though our senior (Donlow) did some nice things for us.

“Donlow basically is a sophomore from a playing time standpoint since he missed two seasons with injuries.”

During his post-game remarks, Saccoccia said “it’s hard to play without your starting tailback. Our hats are off to Ursuline. We played very well but when a team doesn’t have its starting tailback, it’s tough.

“Their players played a good game and I thought we played an excellent game. It might have been a different story if they hard their tailback. But, then again, injuries are part of the game.”

Big Red took the second half kickoff and marched 66 yards for its fourth touchdown, Bernard scoring from 1 yard out.

That drive stayed alive when Ursuline drew a penalty for defensive holding after intercepting a Davis pass.

“We have a pick on their first drive of the second half and then the flag goes up,” Kempe said. “I’m across the field and didn’t get a good look at it. But, that is what it is. A lot of the mistakes we made were our own doing. Obviously Big Red is a very good team and that’s why they are number one in the state. I have a lot of respect for coach, his staff and the program he runs.”

After the ensuing free kick, Steubenville quickly moved for another touchdown, which came on a 9-yard-run by Mitchell.

Ursuline’s touchdown came on a 5-yard run by Fusillo.

Bernard paced Big Red’s run game with 83 yards on 22 trips. Crawford contributed 53 and Mitchell finished with 46. Davis completed 13-of-17 pass attempts for 116 yards. Johnny Agresta had four catches.

“I’m really happy with the way our kids played,” Saccoccia said. “We really only had four mistakes. We held on a sweep and a cross-buck and both penalties came on the backside. We had a block in the back on special teams and we almost roughed the kicker on a punt. But really, four mistakes in 48 minutes–that’s not bad.”

Steubenville will host New Philadelphia Friday in a Week 8 meeting of the unbeaten. The Quakers improved to 7-0 with a 37-14 victory over Zanesville.

Ursuline has a home game with Boardman on Saturday.

“I told our kids before the game we are being tested this season as a team, with our character, our discipline and everything else out,” Kempt said. “With our schedule, you can’t make mistakes. Unfortunately, we are making mistakes right now and they are just killing us.”

Steubenville 37, Ursuline 6

Ursuline 0-0-0-6 — 6

Big Red 14-7-16-0 — 37

BIG RED: Jones 6 pass from Davis (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Mitchell 5 run (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Bernard 4 run (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Bernard 1 run (Phillips kick)

BIG RED: Safety, ball kicked out of end zone

BIG RED: Mitchell 9 run (Phillips kick)

URSULINE: Fusillo 5 run (run failed)

RUSHING: Ursuline 20-67-1 (Fabry 9-17; Fusillo 1-5-1; Jones 5-13; Donlow 4-46; Freer 1-(-14); Big Red 50-220-4 (Davis 3-15; Bernard 22-83-2; Mitchell 10-46-2; Blackmon 4-6; Montgomery 3-15; Crawford 7-53; Rice 1-2).

PASSING: Ursuline 1-8-2 (all by Fabry); Big Red 13-17-116-1-1x (all by Davis).

RECEIVING: Ursuline 1-2 (Johnson 1-2); Big Red 13-116-1 (Jones 2-43-1; Pierro 3-14; Agresta 4-49; Taylor 1-5; Blackmon 1-1; Bernard 1-2; Mitchell 1-2).

FIRST DOWNS: Ursuline 4; Big Red 22.

PENALTIES-YARDS: Ursuline 1-10; Big Red 3-30.

PUNTS: Ursuline 4-28; Big Red 1-35.

FUMBLES-LOST: Ursuline 4-2; Big Red 0-0.