The Bears scored 28 unanswered points to start the second half in a 28-6 victory.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
MCDONALD -- Leetonia's shoulders should finally feel a little lighter.
The Bears scored 28 unanswered points to start the second half against McDonald to roll up a 28-6 victory Friday night at Blue Devil stadium.
It was Leetonia's first win against McDonald since 1979.
The monkey is now off its backs.
"I'm real happy with how our guys played tonight," Leetonia coach Artie Altomare said. "It was a real solid effort. If we can score 20-some points a game this year and hold the other team to 6, we'll be in good shape."
Senior quarterback Kevin Cibula scored two touchdowns, ran for 88 yards and added 52 yards through the air for the Bears, who dominated much of the second half in the battle of two playoff teams from last season.
Costly mistakes: Three McDonald turnovers, a missed field goal and a muffed punt were the difference as Leetonia scored its first 21 points off Blue Devil mistakes.
On the second play of the second half, McDonald senior quarterback Jason Joynes fumbled on his own 34-yard line and Leetonia's Todd Crown recovered. One play later, Cibula broke through the left side of a collapsing McDonald defensive line, streaking 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Bears up 6-0.
"I was surprised because I didn't think they'd crash the line," Cibula said. "But our line just did great tonight; we owe the game to them."
On McDonald's next possession, Leetonia forced the Blue Devils to punt from their own 37-yard line, but a bad snap forced Joynes to fall on the ball for a 22-yard loss.
But the Bears then fumbled on their second play and the Blue Devils recovered just outside their own goal line.
McDonald's joy would be short lived.
Forced fumble: Leetonia collapsed the line on second down, forcing a Joynes fumble that Bears senior linebacker Joe Bruderly recovered in the end zone. Cibula ran in the two-point conversion to put the Bears up 14-0.
Bruderly and junior defensive end Freddie Gray also blocked a field goal.
"Last year the mistakes killed us and I think they killed them this year," Altomare said. "We got some momentum and made the most of what they gave us."
Cibula scored again at the end of the third, this time from four yards out to put Leetonia up 21-0. Senior defensive back Josh Barker intercepted a Joynes pass at McDonald's 33-yard line to set up the score.
Senior fullback Nick Mango later capped a seven play, 97 yard fourth-quarter drive with a 12-yard touchdown to put the game away. Mango finished with 13 carries for 84 yards.
Junior tailback Joey Jenkins carried twice during that drive for 39 yards and finished as the game's leading rusher with 11 carries for 106 yards. Leetonia outrushed the Blue Devils 295-176.
"This was big," Cibula said. "This win means a lot to everybody on our team."
Offense struggles: McDonald played well in the scoreless first half, especially on defense, but couldn't seem to get going offensively. It opened the game with an 11-play, 64 yard drive, but was held on downs.
It was the Blue Devils' best drive until late in the game, when they went 30 yards in five plays for their only touchdown. Junior tailback Greg Gustovich scored from four yards out, but Mango's two-point conversion attempt failed.
"We knew going in that they had a good football team," McDonald coach Dan Williams said. "I mentioned that the team that made the fewest mistakes would probably win and the mistakes killed us tonight."
Senior fullback Jeff Ashton led the Blue Devils with 16 carries for 88 yards. Joynes hit on 6-of-10 passes for 89 yards and one interception. Sophomore Andrew Presco caught two passes for 67 yards.
"We played solid in the first half and we just have to keep improving every week," Williams said. "They've got a nice team. Their quarterback [Cibula] and fullback [Mango] are a nice one-two punch."
After 22 years, McDonald was bound to lose to the Bears sometime. Williams just plans to put the loss behind him and focus on next week.
"We're a young team but we're gonna get better," he said.