By Tom Williams
|7/3||Div. VII||Inter-Tri County League Blue Tier|
For three quarters, the Wellsville High football team felt a share of the Inter Tri-County Tier Two title was within reach.
The Tigers, this week’s No. 7 team in the Associated Press poll of Ohio’s Division VII teams, had limited Western Reserve to one touchdown heading into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers’ dream turned into a nightmare when Blue Devils senior quarterback Nick Allison threw two touchdown passes in 64 seconds to secure a 25-8 victory Friday night.
The triumph gives Western Reserve its second straight 10-0 season and third consecutive ITCL Tier Two crown. They are the top seed for the Region 23 playoffs and the No. 2 team in the AP poll.
“I’m just really blessed to have great players,” Western Reserve coach Andy Hake said. “Our kids play the game [for] four quarters and they play harder than everybody [else].”
Going into the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils (10-0, 7-0) led 11-8, but were driving. On the next play, Allison found wide receiver Danny Rosati in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.
On the next possession, Tigers quarterback Jordan Sloan threw three incomplete passes. After Seth Bradford’s punt, the Blue Devils needed just three plays (and a Wellsville personal foul penalty) to seal the victory.
This time, Allison threw the ball deep where wide receiver Joe Falasca jumped high to snag the ball for a 42-yard touchdown.
“It was a better catch [than throw],” said Allison, who admitted he didn’t think the play had a chance of turning out well. “Honestly, no — when I let go of it, I was like, ‘I underthrew this ball bad.’
“And then I saw Joe kind of slow up and jump up for the ball,” Allison said. “When I saw that, I knew he was going to catch it.
“Joe makes me look good, he’s a great receiver,” the quarterback said. “He’s a big kid, he’s fast and he’s got good hands.”
The Tigers (8-2, 5-2) entered the game as the third team in the Region 23 computer playoff ratings.
“It was intense,” Blue Devils senior linebacker Jon Timko said. “What really helped us was that we have fresh guys, we’re always rotating.
“And we knew that they would start to wear down eventually.”
Wellsville overcame a shaky start to keep the game close. On the third offensive play of the game, Tigers running back Marcus Moxley fumbled for the second time.
The Blue Devils recovered the ball at the Wellsville 25. Six plays later, senior running back Dan Zilke scored from 1 yard out, then ran in the conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Wellsville responded with a four-play, 59-yard march highlighted by Zack Mellott’s 49-yard run to the Western Reserve 6. Mellott scored on a 7-yard run then tied the game with a conversion run.
“That first quarter, we didn’t do our best,” said Zilke, who also plays linebacker. “It was a little scary, that’s a good team.”
Late in the second quarter, Parker Clegg put the Blue Devils ahead for keeps with a 31-yard field goal.
“They were tough,” Hake said of Wellsville. “They had us [on] the ropes for a while.”
Timko struggled for words on how it feels to again go unbeaten in 10 weeks.
“It’s indescribable,” said Timko, who then added: “There’s no feeling like it — it’s amazing.”