St. Clairsville takes down EL
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Football coaches will tell you that the first drive of the second half is the most important of the game. Sometimes it works out that way. Other times is doesn’t. Friday night was the former as St. Clairsville kept it simple in the second half of its game with visiting East Liverpool.
With its running game almost non-existent in the first half, the Red Devils kept pounding the ball at the Potters and eventually wore them down to the tune of 34-20 on the artificial surface inside Red Devil Stadium.
St. Clairsville took the second-half kickoff and marched 77 yards on four plays as Logan Shields crashed in from 3 yards out. Jake Bolyard made it 13-6 with the PAT kick. Although the Potters (2-1) drew even on a Howard Williams’ 30-yard TD run and Joey McNicol’s PAT, the Red Devils’ TD drive was a sign of what was to come.
Will Balgo and Shields found the end zone on short runs and backup quarterback Drew Sefsick ran in from 20 yards out in the fourth quarter as the Red Devils (3-0) ran for 239 yards and four touchdowns after the intermission. They finished with 251 stripes on the ground.
“(Assistant) Coach (Don) Giff (Giffin) and the offensive staff did a good job at halftime of making some adjustments on what was there,” St. Clairsville head coach Brett McLean said. “One of our goals is to always take that first series of the third quarter and get some points out of it. We’re proud of the way we moved the ball in the second half.”
“I think their depth wore us down. They kept substituting guys in there and we just can’t do that,” East Liverpool head coach Josh Ludwig said of the Red Devils.
The two teams were deadlocked at 13-all after three quarters before the hosts tallied touchdowns on three consecutive drives to start the final quarter.
Balgo capped a 15-play, 63-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock when he went in standing from a yard out. Bolyard’s PAT made it 20-13.
The drive was highlighted by a pair of fourth-down conversions. Sefsick found Colin Oberdick for 7 yards on a fourth-and-3 and then used his legs to get 11 yards on a fourth-and-10.
“Great effort by Drew,” McLean praised. “He just kept grinding and never gave up.”
After a three-and-out by the Potters (2-1), Shields scooted around left end for 7 yards. The TD run came two plays after Jacob Jordan rambled for 53. Bolyard’s kick made it 27-13.
The Red Devils defense stopped the Potters’ Howard Williams on a fourth-and-2 and the offense put six more points on the board when Sefsick rolled right and kept the ball for a 20-yard scoring scamper.
Devin Toothman gave the Potters a 6-0 lead when he took off on a 62-yard jaunt on the third play of the contest. The snap on the conversion attempt was bad.
St. Clairsville drew even midway through the second quarter when Sefsick hit Oberdick in stride down the left sidelines for a 91-yard scoring connection. Oberdick caught the ball near midfield and outran the Potter defenders to paydirt. The run for two was no good.
The long touchdown pass was setup when Shields intercepted a Howard Williams pass in the end zone. He returned it to the 4 and Jordan picked up 5 yards on first down.
“That was a huge play by our defense,” McLean stressed. “If they go up 12-0, who knows what would’ve happened.
Howard Williams ran a keeper around his left end for a 30-yard scoring scamper and McNicol tied the game at 13 with the PAT kick.
Eric Williams had a late 1-yard TD run and McNicol’s PAT was good.
Toothman led the way with 136 yards on 16 carries. Howard Williams added 103 on 22 totes. Howard Williams passed for 89 yards on 6-for-11. He was picked twice.
Sefsick, starting for the injured Tyler Tonkovich, went 6 of 17 for 159 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 37 yards on 5 carries and another score.
“Drew has been a quarterback for us in seventh, eighth and ninth grade,” McLean noted. “He’s probably gotten more reps this year than Tyler.”
Oberdick caught four passes for 137 yards.