Allen rumbles, Poland tumbles
The Ursuline running back rushed for 302 yards in the Irish's win over Poland.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
POLAND -- So Alex Allen can't do everything for the Ursuline High football team. That, he's admitted.
But after games such as Friday's 23-13 Irish victory over Poland, you have to wonder.
Allen rushed for 302 yards and scored all 23 of his team's points as Ursuline (2-1) bounced back from a loss to Steubenville.
Poland, meanwhile, slumped to 0-3.
"They needed to win; we needed to win," said Allen, a 6-foot, 192-pound senior. "We expected it to be a dogfight."
Like most high school football players, Allen battles nerves in the opening stages of a game. But he also knows how to channel that energy.
On Ursuline's first play from scrimmage, Allen broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run to put the Irish ahead for good.
"We wanted the kids to come out strong," Ursuline coach Dan Reardon said, "and we feel they did that. They handled this atmosphere well."
Allen finished with four touchdowns on 32 carries against the Bulldogs, adding scoring runs of 2, 11 and 27 yards, respectively.
To complete his all-around game, Allen rushed for a two-point conversion and kicked a 27-yard field goal.
"He's a good player; he's a great kid," Reardon said. "He worked very hard this off-season, and it's paying off for him."
Allen's performance may have highlighted the Irish's win, but their defense deserves just as much credit.
That unit stuffed Poland for much of the game, keeping the Bulldogs' offense off the field. Irish defenders Jerome Jones and John DeSantis also had interceptions.
Ursuline opened a 12-0 lead before Poland mounted a first-half comeback that had the standing-room-only crowd watching in anticipation.
"I knew they would bounce back," Reardon said.
With 18 seconds remaining in the first half and Poland at Ursuline's 20-yard line, senior quarterback Dom Marchionda escaped three charging Irish defenders.
Marchionda then ran forward and zipped a pass that deflected off defensive back Derrick Stewart's hands and into the arms of sophomore receiver Charlie Carchedi.
Poland went to the locker room trailing only 12-7 and with momentum on its side.
"The locker rooms aren't that far apart, and we heard them [Poland] in their locker room," Allen said. "We told each other that we can't let them back in the game and we have to stay on top."
Reardon added, "They definitely had some momentum. Our kids handled it well; they didn't panic at halftime. They realized it was one broken play."
Allen to the rescue
Guess who erased Poland's momentum?
Allen led Ursuline down the field on its first drive of the second half, capping it with his 11-yard touchdown run.
"We knew we wanted to run the football," Reardon said. "It was just a matter of our offensive line executing, and they did."
Poland coach Paul Hulea added of Allen, "He's obviously a great player. He's got good vision, and he runs the ball hard."
Although the Bulldogs responded in the fourth quarter with Marchionda's 10-yard touchdown pass to senior Jim Shurilla, they couldn't recover.
"We struggled to stop them," Hulea said, "but our kids never showed any quit. We showed great improvement, and I think we got some more confidence in ourselves."