Rayen's postseason hopes spoiled by Big Red, 34-12
Steubenville completed its third straight unbeaten season.
By JOHN BUTERA
STEUBENVILLE -- Steubenville High scored early and often Friday night, ending The Rayen School's outstanding season and playoff hopes, 34-12.
Big Red (10-0), rated first in Division III, Region 11, needed only four seconds to score their first touchdown and by halftime the outcome had little doubt as they were ahead, 27-6.
"I was worried about the Rayen defense coming in," said Reno Saccoccia, who guided Big Red to their third straight unbeaten season and ninth in his tenure.
"Teams had scored more than 10 points against them in a game, but their defense hadn't given up 10 in a game."
Following a bad snap out of deep punt formation, Rayen (7-3) set the stage for Big Red at the Tigers' 7-yard line just moments into the game. Jeremy Presley scored on the first Big Red to make it 6-0.
Big Red got two touchdown passes from Zach Collaros to Sam Busic to build a 20-0 lead with 9:08 remaining in the second period.
Rayen showed some spark, getting a 70-yard pass play from Sal Battles to Troy Rice.
Following the 70-yard pass hook up and a penalty, Rayen scored when Dwayne Smith grabbed a teammate's fumble and hit scored from 5 yards out.
That, however, would be the Tigers lone offensive score of the night.
Big night for Rice
Rice scored on an 85-kickoff return, had another reception for 55 yards and thwarted a Big Red scoring drive with an interception in the end zone.
Rice had three receptions for 133 yards.
"Troy's a special athlete," said Rayen coach Brian Shaner. "He has the potential for a big play any time he touches the ball."
Big Red answered Rayen's first touchdown with their fourth touchdown in as many drives to make the halftime score 27-6. Steven Rose, Big Red's kicker, proved an impressive weapon as the 6-foot-6, 260-pound senior put three of his first four kickoffs in the end zone.
Big hole early
"Defensively, we just dug ourselves too deep of a hole," said Shaner. "Then we turned the ball over right off the bat. They made us pay for that. At halftime, I told the kids it wasn't a case of getting beat, but beating ourselves. We gave them two touchdowns in that first half.
"It's been a special season though, and I'm really proud of these kids. I just wish it could have ended for them in the playoffs."
Big Red showed sportsmanship by running out the clock in the final minute despite having the ball inside the Rayen 10.
"We try to run a class program," Saccoccia said of the decision.