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Balanced McDonald stays in playoff hunt

By john bassetti

sports @vindy.com

Lowellville

McDonald used the jet sweep in the first half and mixed in the passing of sophomore Ben Carkido to defeat Lowellville, 39-19, in Friday’s Inter Tri-County League Tier Two victory.

Matt Morrell, Jake Reckard and Tom Rebraca scored on touchdown pass plays covering 53, 21 and 27 yards and Morrell gained 93 of his 105 yards in the opening half.

“He’s been our guy,” McDonald coach Dan Williams said of Morrell. “He’s a senior and our go-to guy in the backfield.”

The Blue Devils played a sound first half and only gave up one big play: a 68-yard TD run up the middle by Jesse Terwilliger.

“We were a little disappointed with some penalties in the second half,” Williams said. “We moved the ball at times, but didn’t finish drives. We have to learn from that, clean up some things up in the second half and play better.”

Cameron Ifft scored first for McDonald (6-2, 4-1) and finished with 77 yards rushing, while Reckard had 81. The Blue Devils out-gained Lowellville on the ground, 253-139, while both teams had 128 through the air.

“He’s [Carkido] been getting some time under his belt and has gotten better each week,” Williams said. “We’re trying to give him more plays, as far as throwing the ball and mixing it in [with the run]. We have three good backs, but teams are trying to shut those guys down.

“Now, I think the pass is opening up because Ben is making good reads and good throws and the line is blocking real well,” the coach said of center Albert Yates, right guard Matt Manna, left guard Caleb Dimery, left tackle Carson Williams, right tackle Jake Foster and tight end Rebraca.

Carkido played in some games earlier in the season, then became the starter three weeks ago.

“He’s steadily improved,” Williams said.

The coach also likes his team’s current position.

“This game keeps us in the playoff chase,” he said. “We’re chasing Western Reserve, which has Mineral Ridge next week and then Wellsville. So we’re going to try to keep pace and stay one back. But if we win out, we’re going to be in the playoffs and that’s the most important thing for us right now.”

Lowellville scored the only touchdown of the third quarter when Phil Ginnis’ 3-yard run completed an 83-yard drive by the Rockets.

Lowellville coach Jeff D’Altorio was disappointed with his team’s first-half play when McDonald established a 33-6 lead.

“We made some adjustments at halftime, but it was too late,” he said. “Our kids came back in the second half and they battled, but we got down early and had a hard time stopping McDonald on the jet [sweep]. We tried making some adjustments on the field, but we couldn’t do it until halftime.

“We came out flat and I don’t know why because we had a pretty good week of practice. I thought we were ready to go, but, sometimes, that happens. We’re going to regroup and our kids know there’s a sense of urgency these next two weeks.”

The Rockets (5-3, 3-2) finish with Jackson-Milton and Sebring.

“We’ve got some goals and we’re going to try to reach those,” D’Altorio said.


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