Red Devils stay perfect
MARTINS FERRY – St. Clairsville has had its fair share of troubles securing victories at the Dave Bruney Football Complex.
With the Purple Riders chewing up clock like no one’s business in the first half, executing its offensive gameplan to a tee, the Red Devils had to start to have a feeling of deja vu.
Then senior standout Jaylon Brown got involved for the Red Devils and the Purple Riders, who dominated the time of possession, couldn’t keep up on the scoreboard in the battle of state-ranked combines Friday night.
“Jaylon’s a big-time player and a tough kid,” said St. C. head coach Brett McLean. “He’s earned everything he’s received. I hope all of our young kids want to be like him.”
Behind four touchdowns and 213 yards rushing from Brown, the Red Devils won their 15th straight regular-season game and fourth in a row this season by a 35-14 count against the now 3-1 Purple Riders.
“I liked our gameplan, and I thought we had opportunities to make a few plays, but we didn’t take advantage of those and we didn’t tackle number eight (Brown),” Ferry head coach Dave Bruney said. “We did everything we wanted to do, but we just didn’t score.”
The Riders actually ran 30 more offensive plays than the Red Devils, but the rate at which St. C. was able to strike was the difference.
Ferry was gaining yards in clips of three, four or five yards for the most part as it pounded away with Marcus Sutton, Bruce Burger, Bryan Styles and Eric Flowers.
St. Clairsville, meanwhile, scored on a kickoff return by Malik Gummer, which answered the first Riders’ touchdown, which ate more than half of the first quarter before a 2-yard plunge by junior fullback Bruce Burger.
Gummer scooped up the kick and race it back 58 yards for the touchdown.
“We changed our kickoff for this week to prevent that, and we just didn’t didn’t do it,” Bruney said. “We worked on it every day this week, but we had kids collapse to clear the middle of the field.”
Shortly after the Riders took the lead on a 3-yard burst by Flowers, which capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive that featured just one pass from Flowers to Robert Vargo for 16 yards, Brown dashed to the end zone, 65 yards basically untouched. Zach Musilli’s second of five PATs knotted the game at 14.
“That’s why (Brown) is getting a scholarship,” Bruney said. “He gets a step and you’re not going to get him. They did a nice job. They had a nice gameplan. You plan how to get (Brown) in space and they were able to do that.”
The Red Devils took control on the first possession of the second half. Facing a third-and-long in their own territory, junior quarterback Michael Monteroso found J.C. Coleman for a 31-yard gain and first down.
They converted another third down two plays later when Monteroso found sophomore Brendan Ferns for 15 yards. Brown did the rest.
“Those were a couple of big throws Michael made in the clutch,” McLean said. “I thought the catch that J.C. made in the third quarter was one of the biggest plays of the game. We had some things we wanted to do in the first half, but we couldn’t get the ball. I thought it was important that our staff stayed calm because it can get frustrating when you can’t get your hands on the ball.”
Martins Ferry didn’t deviate from what it wanted to do on the next possession. It marched to the 27-yard line before a minus rush and two incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Devils.
With 10:32 to go in the game, Brown capped a 6-play drive from 30 yards out. He carried the ball on every play during the drive.
“Whether it was at Claymont, against Renaissance or here, we had to power the football to win,” McLean said. “We did a lot of wide open stuff last year and that’s fun, but we’re doing sound things right now and our team is maturing.”
Martins Ferry, still with faint hope, drove inside the Devils’ 30, but the St. C. defense got another stop.
“I thought we were in good shape still with about 11 minutes to go, but we just didn’t get any points from a couple drives,” Bruney said. “Then we had get a little bit out of character and they were able to capitalize.”
All told, the Red Devils outgained the Riders, 316-283.
Ferry was again balanced on the ground. Flowers with finished with 51 yards, while Sutton and Burger both had 50. Styles finished with 45 on the ground and caught three passes for 35 yards.
St. Clairsville returns home to face Indian Creek on Friday, while the Purple Riders complete a five-game homestand against Harrison Central the same evening.