Madonna takes down Bridgeport

BROOKSIDE — There is nothing fancy about the Weirton Madonna offense. Friday night at Perkins Field it didn’t need to be.

Junior workhorse Donovan Kirby carried 43 times for 271 yards and three touchdowns in leading Madonna to a 28-12 triumph over Bridgeport. Kirby’s Herculean effort boosted the Dons of second-year Coach Darrin Hicks to 2-0 on the young season.

The Bulldogs of first-year coach Gary Krol, meanwhile, fell to 0-3.

“Donovan is a tough kid who works hard at everything he does. He buys into the weightroom,” Hicks said. “We may have run him a few times too many tonight, but he did a great job.

“You cannot say enough about our offensive line. They take pride in what they do. It is important to them,” he continued. “They were really impressive tonight.”

Impressive indeed. The Blue Dons churned out 394 yards on the ground, while attempting just three passes all night, completing one.

The Madonna offensive line was comprised of Zak Tokash, Robby Valenti, Mac Raymond, Max Fiedorczyk and Ryan Ekey.

“Very disappointing,” Krol said. “Too many turnovers, too many mistakes. We stopped ourselves.”

That they did.

The Bulldogs — receiving a sparkling performance by junior quarterback Tino Kusic — displayed an explosive attack, churning out more than 300 yards in offense.

The hosts, however, repeatedly made mistakes at the most inopportune of times, either losing fumbles or being flagged for a costly penalty. The Bulldogs advanced to the Madonna one-yard-line and four-yard-line in the first half without scoring.

The Hancock Countians took a 7-6 lead into halftime. Their lone score prior to intermission came via a 68-yard run by Vince Pulice. Gavin Dietrich added the PAT.

Bridgeport tallied with 1:20 remaining in the first half, courtesy of a 14-yard slant from Kusic to Jeremiah Booker. The pass for the points failed.

“I saw a lot of leadership in our locker room at halftime. Even before I got in there our seniors stepped up. We have 11 seniors and they are a special bunch,” Hicks said. “We came out a little flat in the first half. That is on me. We came out and played a much better second half.

“Our defensive line put a lot of pressure on their quarterback,” he continued. “It is nice to be 2-0. We just want to go 1-0 each week.”

Madonna treks to Beallsville Friday.

The Blue Dons took the second-half kickoff at midfield as the Bulldogs failed on an onside kick. Nine consecutive running plays, capped by a five-yard Kirby burst, found paydirt with 7:23 showing. The PAT was blocked, leaving the Dons up 13-6.

Bridgeport answered immediately on the ensuing kick. Senior Mannix Doyle took a handoff off a reserve and scampered 85 yards for what would prove to be Bridgeport’s final score of the night.

The run for the bonus points came up short.

Madonna set up shop at its 43 following the kickoff. Nine snaps later Kirby bolted untouched up the middle for an eight-yard score. Kirby ran in the bonus points, giving the visitors a 21-12 lead with 2:50 showing in the third period.

Kirby delivered the clincher with 9:55 remaining as he scored from a yard out, capping his brilliant night.

Kusic, who lost last season due to injury, was superb in a losing effort. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 263 yards despite facing relentless pressure all evening. He also picked up 40 yards on the ground, a total which suffered from numerous quarterback sacks.

“We can move the ball but we can be our own worst enemies. We have to cut out mistakes,” Krol said. “Our tackling needs to get better as does our offensive line play. It was a very frustrating performance.”

The Bulldogs received strong defensive efforts from Booker and Logan Zusack.

Bridgeport will shoot again for its initial win Friday at Paden City.

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