Big Red cruises past Beavers, 34-7
A quick start propelled Steubenville to its 11th win.
By JOHN BUTERA
STEUBENVILLE -- When your opponent's opening two drives feature four plays that are each longer than your total first-quarter offense, chances are you're going to be in for a long night.
That was the story Friday for Beaver Local as Steubenville came away with an impressive 34-7 victory in a Division III regional quarterfinal at Harding Stadium.
After one session, Beaver Local had run just eight plays for 8 yards while Big Red rambled for 134 yards and a 14-0 lead.
"Defensively we just needed to make some plays," Beaver Local coach Rich Wright said, "and that was one battle we didn't win."
Early in the second quarter, Beaver Local began to find some spark and started an impressive drive.
Starting on their 20, the Beavers began the push with a 19-yard run by Luke Neville. Beaver Local picked and poked its way down field, eating up small chunks of yardage and huge chunks of time.
Soon the Beavers were at the Steubenville 1-yard line, having run 19 plays and converting three fourth-down attempts.
One of those was a 2-yard burst by Jim Bowersock who looked to everyone to be stopped for a loss but then somehow broke away from would-be tacklers to pick up the first down.
Fred Lucas' 1-yard run completed the 80-yard, 20-play march, which used 10 minutes, 33 seconds, and pulled the Beavers to 14-7 with 2:30 remaining in the half.
Other than the Neville run, no other Beaver Local play in the march gained more than 8 yards.
Steubenville wasn't done, however, as pass plays of 16 and 47 yards had Big Red with a first-and-goal at the 9.
Two plays later, Zack Collaros found Demetrus Benjamin with a 6-yard scoring strike to pull Big Red ahead 21-7 with 34 seconds remaining before intermission.
Collaros was 7-of-8 for 144 yards when Beaver had yet to attempt a pass. Collaros finished 13-of-15 for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Beaver Local was 0-for-2.
"Every score is big," Steubenville coach Reno Saccoccia said, "but that one was really big. We don't throw much but when we do we are effective."
Steubenville put the game away on the first drive of the second half when it marched 76 yards in 10 plays, capped by a Collaros-to-Maurice Bougard touchdown which increased Big Red's lead to 27-7 with 7:42 remaining in the third quarter.
"When we came out and didn't stop them that hurt," Bowersock said. "But we still stayed together as a team and continued to play well."
Bowersock was one of several Beaver Local seniors to have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.
"Our goal was to make it to week 11," said Wright after Beaver Local's (8-3) five-game winning streak was snapped. "But next year we're going to have to push that up because right now this doesn't feel very good."
Next Friday, Steubenville (11-0) will play Canal Fulton Northwest (9-2).