By Steve Wilaj
Western Reserve found out in the first two weeks of the season that it can run the ball. On Friday against Jackson-Milton, the Blue Devils discovered their passing game isn’t too shabby, either.
In defeating the Bluejays, 43-24, Western Reserve quarterback Nick Allison threw four touchdowns and completed 18 of 28 passes for 254 yards.
“We ran a lot the past two games against real tough opponents,” said Blue Devils head coach Andy Hake. “We focused on ball control and field position. Tonight we wanted to get the offense going and open things up a little bit.”
Hake’s plan worked perfectly, as Western Reserve (4-0) jumped out to a 14-0 advantage with the duo of Allison and Dan Rosati.
Allison found Rosati for 9- and 19-yard scores in the first quarter, then threw his third touchdown of the first half when he connected with Joe Falasca for 13 yards. Falasca also caught Allison’s fourth TD pass, a 54-yard bomb in the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot-5 junior was the Blue Devils’ top receiver, catching seven balls for 134 yards. Rosati also had five receptions for 69 yards.
“We have a great quarterback and we let him throw the ball,” Hake said.
A 3-yard TD run by Dan Zilke capped an explosive 29-3 first half. They were helped by a Jackson-Milton muffed punt at its own 17-yard line.
“We came out and did what we had to do,” Hake said. “It was our first league game and they’re a tough team.”
The Bluejays didn’t quit, as quarterback Jeremy Fitzpatrick threw two 19-yard touchdown passes in the second half to Alex Thornburg and Nick Goodlin respectively.
Fitzpatrick completed 19 of 28 throws for 155 yards. Joe Burnside led the Bluejays’ ground game with 50 rushing yards on 15 carries.
“They got a lot of young guys playing and it was a hard fought game,” Hake said. “Everything they did made sense. They have a good coaching staff and a lot of young kids.”
Zach Hagerty took a Western Reserve fumble 91 yards to the end zone to begin the fourth quarter. But in the end, the Blue Devils’ defense was too stiff for a Jackson-Milton comeback.
“Our first guys played great defense,” Hake said. “Their offense worked hard against us, but our first defense played really tough.”
Western Reserve’s Nick Tobin had the game’s only interception, which came in the third quarter. The Blue Devils will head to McDonald next week.
“We have to get better,” Hake said. “I saw a lot of good things tonight but we have to be better. I’m still proud of our guys though.”