By kevin connelly
The top rushing team in the Inter Tri-County League Tier Two used timely passing and clutch conversions to defeat McDonald on Friday.
Wellsville’s Marcus Moxley caught only two passes, but both went for scores. One was a 21-yard catch in the back corner of the end zone with about five minutes remaining to give the Tigers a 31-21 win over the Blue Devils.
“Before the play, I told [quarterback Jordan Sloan] where to throw it and he put it right there,” Moxley said. “I couldn’t see my feet, but I knew I was in bounds. There was no doubt.”
Wellsville’s win, however, was in doubt after McDonald (6-3, 4-2 ITCL Tier Two) scored two touchdowns in less than a minute early in the fourth quarter. The second score was set up by a Sloan fumble in Tigers’ territory.
“I thought we made plays when we had to,” Wellsville coach Rich Wright said. “Maybe a couple too many turnovers, but I thought we threw the ball pretty well.”
Sloan finished an efficient 7-of-12 for 181 yards and the two touchdown passes to Moxley.
“They were giving us a few things passing wise,” Wright said. “They were taking away our sweep and doing some other things, so we probably should’ve [gone] to it a few more times.
“I felt pretty good with that lead and maybe got too comfortable, but their kids battled to the last second.”
McDonald had opportunities, but was stopped 1-yard short on a fake punt, threw an interception on Wellsville’s 30-yard line and couldn’t come up with an onside kick after they cut the lead to three.
“They just didn’t wanna quit, they didn’t wanna give up,” Blue Devils coach Dan Williams said. “That’s the type of kids we have here at McDonald; they play hard from the beginning to the end.”
The Blue Devils’ other big problem was stopping the Tigers’ offense on third down. Sloan continuously made plays with his legs and arm to move the chains on.
“We just couldn’t get off the field on third-and-long,” Williams said. “Every time there was a third-and-long, they converted and we just couldn’t get our defense off the field.”
Wellsville did the biggest damage through the air, but they wore down the Blue Devils’ defense on the ground. Zack Mellott carried the ball 15 times for 130 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run to start the second half. Sloan also gained 84 yards on 15 carries and a score.
“We knew they could throw the football,” Williams said. “We knew they would be multi-dimensional, but we didn’t put pressure on the quarterback very well — gave him a lot of time to throw — and they have athletes all over the field and they made plays.”
The Tigers took a 21-0 lead with just more than nine minutes left in the third quarter, but a 5-yard touchdown catch by Matt Morrell cut the lead to two scores.
A 29-yard field goal gave Wellsville a 24-7 lead, but Ben Carkido scored on a quarterback keeper and Morrell scored 55 seconds later from 7 yards out.
Wellsville (8-1, 5-1 ITCL Tier Two) has a chance to earn a share of the division crown if they can knock off unbeaten Western Reserve.
“That’s not lost on us,” Moxley said. “We definitely want a piece of that.”