Lowellville drills McDonald 40-6
LOWELLVILLE — It was the annual homecoming game for Lowellville on Friday and the Rockets celebrated in style by renewing their rivalry with McDonald and dismantling the Blue Devils 40-6.
Lowellville got the ball first, but McDonald led 6-0 after a strip-sack, fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown.
Then, Lowellville had a muffed punt which pinned them deep, but the Rockets answered and led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.
“We made some mistakes early,” said Lowellville coach Andrew Mamula. “We were trailing a minute into the game. Luckily, our kids rebounded. The offense started clicking after that first drive. The defense didn’t give up any points. I was really happy with the defensive effort.”
One of the stars on defense for the Rockets (6-1) was senior defensive end Casey Gordon who registered multiple tackles behind the line of scrimmage including a sack.
“We started out a little rough,” said Gordon. “But, it’s all about how you respond. I believe we answered that call, and came back with the will to win. I hit a quick spin move in on that sack and it was there.”
Lowellville scored again when senior quarterback Michael Ballone put a good drive together with multiple passes completed to senior Landon Esenwein.
Then, Ballone scrambled to convert a 4th down and 4 for an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior Braylen Dabney. The 2-point conversion was no good and it was 13-6.
McDonald was forced to punt after a big tackle by AJ Boehlke. The Devils still got the kick away after a bad snap. However, that didn’t stop the Rockets from scoring again before halftime.
Senior Mathew Lucido caught a touchdown pass with 24 seconds remaining until the break, after Ballone miraculously connected with Dabney on a 4th and 19 after a false start penalty and it was 19-6.
McDonald (4-3) was on the move to start the second half, but the drive stalled when Lowellville forced a 4th and 20. Quarterback Drew Zajack completed the ball to fellow sophomore Casey Miller but it was short of the line to gain.
“We had a good start to the game,” said McDonald coach Dan Williams. “We came out in the second half with a good drive, and fluttered a little bit, and they stopped us. We couldn’t get off the field defensively on fourth down. We need more consistency. To be a good football team, like Lowellville, you’ve got to get more consistent.”
Junior Geno Perry was fast on a 14-yard touchdown run around the corner to begin the fourth quarter and it was 26-6.
Then, Ballone exploded for another touchdown on a 50-yard quarterback keeper and the Rockets were ahead 33-6.
“I thought this was Michael’s most complete game,” said Mamula. “This was the first game where it was both running and passing. He hurt them with both. If he keeps playing like that, over the next couple of weeks, we’re a tough team to beat. And, he’s a tough kid.”
Lowellville might have gotten a glimpse of the future with their final touchdown of the game. Freshman Ricky Willrich made a nice move and tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Brenner in the closing minutes.