NEW MANCHESTER - Coming into Steubenville Catholic Central's matchup with Oak Glen, Friday at the Bears' Den, two questions regarding the Crusaders involved if they could win a game when their high-powered passing attack struggled, and if they could find a way to pull out a close game late.
Both questions were answered with a resounding yes as the Crusaders held the Golden Bears to six points and 167 yards of offense, and turned a 14-6 fourth quarter lead into a 28-6 win behind some big plays in crunch time.
"Our defense was outstanding tonight, they kept us in the game," said Central head coach Steve Daley. "We struggled offensively and our defense just kept gritting it out and giving us opportunities.
YOU TAKE IT — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Doug Maslowski receives a handoff from quarterback Brenton Colabella during Friday’s 28-6 road win over Oak Glen.
-- Courtesy Jamie Olmstead
"It gives us a lot of confidence. We ended the first half of the season at 3-2, and that is where we wanted to be coming into this week. That was our big goal and we accomplished that.
"We have to start realizing that when we want to, or are able to, play defense and do the little things we can do them well. If we take care of the little things in the second half of the season things should go well for us."
Added Oak Glen head coach Ian Whittington, "I told my team they played an extremely hard fought football game.
Steubenville Central 28, Oak Glen 6
Central 7 0 7 14 - 28
Oak Glen 0 0 6 0 - 6
SCC: Maslowski 46 run (Romano kick)
OG: Steed 49 run (Kick failed)
SCC: Carapellotti 14 pass from Colabella (Maslowski kick)
SCC: Herrington 5 pass from Colabella (Romano kick)
SCC: Herrington 39 fumble return (Maslowski kick)
RUSHING: Central 31-115-1 (Maslowski 13-101-1, Colabella 9-0, Romano 6-15, Fletcher 2-(-3), Jones 1-2); Oak Glen 45-106-1 (Steed 14-73-1, Hartley 10-(-8), Campbell 8-13, Smith 4-3, Tropeck 3-15, Staley 3-9, Arneault 2-1, Flowers 1-0).
PASSING: Central 12-26-132-2TD-0INT (All by Colabella); Oak Glen 9-16-61-0TD-1INT (All by Hartley).
RECEIVING: Central (Herrington 4-40-1, Fletcher 3-14, Maslowski 2-29, Laukert 1-29, Carapellotti 1-14-1, Jones 1-6); Oak Glen (Staley 3-35, Holloway 2-13, Flowers 1-9, Smith 1-5, Campbell 1-2, Davis 1-(-3)).
FIRST DOWNS: Central 15; Oak Glen 13.
PENALTIES: Central 3-35; Oak Glen 7-65.
FUMBLES-LOST: Central 0-0; Oak Glen 2-1.
SACKS: Central 4 (Herrington 2, Murphy, Laukert); Oak Glen 5 (Bittinger 2, Murray, Wright, Staley .5, Je. Stivason .5).
"They played their tails off until the end of the game. No one flopped, no one hung their heads, we just went out there and played tough football."
With the game 14-6 and 5:15 left to play, the Golden Bears took over at the Crusaders' 29-yard line. On third-and-10, Kyle Laukert was credited with a sack when he forced Oak Glen quarterback Chase Hartley, who started for an ill Bub Haddox, out of bounds for a one-yard loss. On fourth-and-11, Zach Herrington came off the edge on a blitz and sacked Hartley for an eight-yard loss for a turnover on downs.
Herrington wasn't finished from there.
After three run plays put the Crusaders at first and goal at the five, Brenton Colabella threw a ball to Herrington's back shoulder where the 6-foot-4 receiver pulled it in for the score. Stone Romano put the extra point through for a 21-6 lead with 2:20 left.
Two plays later Herrington struck again. After a 10-yard Hartley gain put the Golden Bears at midfield Herrington again came off the edge and sacked Hartley again. This time he forced a fumble on the 11-yard loss, scooped the ball at the 39, and rumbled to the end zone for the score. Doug Maslowski kicked the extra point for what ended up a 28-6 final.
"It's not his normal role or what you see out of him," Daley said of Herrington. "I told the kids before the game that big games call for big players with big efforts. His big effort tonight came with those things we don't normally ask him to do.
"He stepped it up in that regard, and came up big for us."
Maslowski started the scoring off for the Crusaders in the first quarter. His 46-yard touchdown run was the only score of the first half for either team. Romano knocked through the point after for the 7-0 Central lead.
On the third play of the third quarter Tyler Steed pulled the Golden Bears within one with a 49-yard run. The point after was no good and the score was 7-6 Crusaders.
Central answered back with its best drive of the game. Going 63 yards on 11 plays, the Crusaders extended their lead when Colabella hit Michael Carapellotti on a 14-yard strike. Maslowski's extra point made the score 14-6 and neither team scored again until Central's late game heroics iced the win.
The Crusaders' offense accounted for 247 total yards. The rushing attack, led by Maslowski's 101 yards on 13 touches, had 115 yards on 31 carries for the night.
"The run game really came through for us tonight," said Daley. "Those were two things we knew coming into this season, we were going to need to play defense and we were going to need to run the ball to win the key games, and we did those things tonight."
Though Colabella struggled at times, going 12-for-26 for 132 yards, he still threw for two scores and didn't throw a pick for the fourth time in five games. Herrington led Central with four catches for 40 yards. Maslowski added 29 more yards on two grabs.
"I think we played fast, physical, and were all over the ball," said Whittington. "We held them to not too many passing. We came out with the game plan to stop the pass and tackle the run. A couple mistake here and there killed us. Just the little things.
"Not looking the right way for the ball, and a misread on another play and we could have been there. Steubenville Central is a good football team."
The Golden Bears struggled for yards against Central's defense, picking up 106 yards on 45 carries. Steed accounted for 73 of those yards on 14 rushes.
Hartley was solid filling in for Haddox, throwing for 61 yards on 9-of-16 attempts. The sophomore threw one interception.
"Hartley's a very tough kid," said Whittington. "Very physical, hard-nosed, he'll do anything for you. We just lose a little flexibility in the offense when Bub is out of the game.
"Bub can do some pretty special things on the field with his legs or his arm. It's a big loss not having Bub, but Chase played his butt off."
Both teams got pressure on the quarterback with Oak Glen sacking Colabella five times and the Crusaders pulling Hartley down four.
Central (3-2) plays Saturday when it hosts Conotton Valley while Oak Glen (2-3) travels to Weir to take on its county rival.
"There's still a lot to take care of," said Whittington. "Next week we play Weir High, and there's something in our kids' hearts about that game so we have to come to work and do the right things."