Allison’s passing critical in ITCL showdown
By Tim Cleveland
There weren’t a lot of big plays to be had Friday night between rivals Western Reserve and McDonald. Reserve used a pair of long first-half TD passes and a stingy defense to beat its rival 24-14 for the third consecutive time after losing 24 straight in the series.
Nick Allison connected twice with Joe Falasca from 57 and 47 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
“Our guy’s 6-(foot)-5,” Western Reserve coach Andy Hake said. “He can go to the ball. When it counts, the guy made a play.”
McDonald coach Dan Williams said Reserve didn’t do anything he didn’t expect with the long throws.
“They can throw and I knew that coming in,” he said. “Allison’s a great quarterback and they have some good skill kids catching the ball.”
With a two-touchdown lead, Allison connected with Falasca again, but he fumbled and Zack Conley returned it to bring McDonald (3-2, 1-1) to within 14-6 at halftime.
Late in the game, the Blue Devils (5-0, 2-0) got their running game going as Dan Zilke carried the load on a drive that lasted eight plays for 74 yards that burned 4:45 off the clock. His 23-yard touchdown gave Reserve a 24-8 lead with 2:18 left.
“We got on our line really bad at halftime,” Hake said. “We were making good contact but not moving our feet. We moved our feet in the second half and were able to move the ball. I think we wore them out toward the end.”
Inexplicably, Hake had kicker Parker Clegg attempt to boot the ball out of bounds on the subsequent kickoff. The ball didn’t make it that far and Caleb Dimery returned the ball 50 yards for a score to give the Blue Devils new life. McDonald was within 24-14 with 2:10 to play.
“I didn’t want them to return it,” Hake said. “I told (Clegg) to kick it out of bounds. Darn guy caught it and ran it in there. That’s how the game goes. There’s no doubt the better team won. (McDonald’s) going to win games and I think they’re going to make the playoffs.”
Zilke came through for Reserve once again, recovering the onside kick and the Blue Devils were able to run out the clock.
On the plus side, Western Reserve held McDonald’s offense out of the end zone and allowed just 125 total yards. On the negative, it committed 13 penalties with the fumble and surrendered the kickoff return for a score.
“They have a great pressure defense,” Williams said. “To beat pressure, you’ve got to get to the edge and we don’t block as well on the edge as we wanted to. We’ve got to do a better job.
“Every time we got a little momentum, we had a negative play. You’ve got to eliminate negative plays to win these type of football games. We had some opportunities and we didn’t make plays. You have to eliminate negative plays. I’d say we had 10 negative plays, whether they were runs or sacks or whatever.”