Saturday, September 1, 2018
By ERIC FORTUNE
There was no repeat of last year when the Columbiana Clippers overcame an 18 point deficit to get past McDonald, 38-37.
This time an early 21-0 lead was just enough as the Blue Devils held on for a 42-35 victory Friday night.
“I don’t know what to expect anymore,” McDonald coach Dan Williams said. “I knew they were good. Everyone said Reserve beat them, they’re nothing. They’re good. Bob [Spaite] runs a good program down there. The kids play hard. They have skill. They have big kids. They have a winning tradition down there like us. I had a feeling it was going to be like this.”
McDonald quarterback Josh Celli was instrumental in a fast start for the Blue Devils (2-0) with 29-yard and 26-yard touchdown passes to Cameron Tucker. Celli added a 59-yard run in the first quarter to make it 21-0.
Celli finished with 164 yards on 18 carries. He added another 86 through the air.
“I thought we were flat in warmups,” Williams said. “Then we came out and put up 21 real quick. I thought after we got the 21-0 lead we got a little complacent. We let them have a couple of big plays and let them off the hook.”
The Clippers (0-2) scored a little over two minutes on the first of those big plays after falling behind by three touchdowns when Jakob Cross hit Chase Franken from 52 yards out to make it a two-score game.
After a Xathan Cross interception at the Clipper 7, Jakob Cross hit Franken on an 87-yard pass to make it 21-14.
McDonald’s other workhorse Alex Cintron finished with 184 yards on 32 carries as his 1-yard touchdown run made it 28-14.
A 1-yard run from Cody Miller made it 28-20 at the half.
“Give McDonald a lot of credit,” Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said. “They are an excellent football team. Those two backs - I’ve been in this game 50 years playing or coaching — I haven’t seen two guys explode through a hold like that. We weren’t giving them much. We’re giving away cracks. It wasn’t like they were knocking us down and there were gashes. The majority of their runs, they’re hitting seams that the average bear doesn’t get through.”
Cross finished with 396 yards passing. Franken hauled in 241 of those yards.
“We’d trade all those stats in the world for a win,” Spaite said. “I think Jake is the same way. We’re all the same way. It doesn’t matter if you lose. It’s just stats. We did some good things. Believe it or not, we did some good things defensively. We didn’t give them much.”
A one-yard run from Cody Miller made the score 28-26 at the 9:42 mark of the third quarter. Though each time the Clippers inched closer, the Blue Devils responded with a score as Celli’s 11-yard run made it 35-26 just three minutes later
The Clippers tied the game at 35 with 111:05 left to play after a 32-yard field goal from Colin Schick.
McDonald responded with a seven play 58-yard drive capped off by a 16 yard Celli run.