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Steubenville ousted in Division III by Dover

STEUBENVILLE – Dover rode a strong performance by junior quarterback T.C. Molk to a 41-20 upset victory over Big Red Friday in the second round of the Division III, Region 9 playoffs.

Molk, who fired a school-record-tying seven touchdowns in last week’s win over Tallmadge, threw for four scores, as the 10th-seeded Crimson Tornadoes won their second straight postseason contest against Steubenville. Dover earned a 31-28 triumph inside Harding Stadium 10 years ago.

With the victory, Dan Ifft’s club improves to 4-4 and will visit Streetsboro, seeded second in the region, in the quarterfinals. Streetsboro advanced with a 41-6 beating of Niles McKinley. Big Red, which was seeded seventh, falls to 4-3.

“Playoff football brings out the best and worst in you,” Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia said. “It tests everything about your football life.

“There’s no finger pointing. We did not do a good job, and it starts with me. If I am going to take the credit for winning, then I have to take the blame for losing. It starts with me and it ends with me.”

Dover scored the game’s first 27 points, as Molk threw scoring strikes to Nathan Ravine (54 yards), William McCrate (21 yards) and Matthew Gigax (3 yards). Jacob Hostetler added a 6-yard touchdown run.

“Big Red meat is very rare – you don’t get it very often,” Ifft said. “You don’t taste victory very often down here or with them in general.

“They just have a hell of a program and are tremendously coached. When you are able to get a win against them, it is pretty satisfying and very important for your program. They don’t come often, and that is a tribute to the Big Red program.”

Big Red got on the board with 3:37 left in the opening half when junior tailback Rodney James, Jr. capped a 72-yard drive with an 8-yard run. The Crimson Tornadoes answered immediately on a 12-yard Molk to McCrate pass and led, 34-7, at the intermission.

Steubenville struck first in the second half, as senior Cade Kernahan fired a 58-yard strike to fellow senior Andrew Gresko. Dover came right back with Hostetler getting his second 6-yard score of the evening.

Saccoccia’s crew accounted for the final score, James racing 75 yards to the end zone.

The game marked the second time the tradition-rich programs met this season, with Big Red earning a 28-7 win in Week 2.

“The last time we were here, they had us pinned all night from a field possession standpoint,” Ifft said. “We were able to flip the script tonight, at least in the first half (three Dover scoring marches started in Big Red territory). We had them deep in their territory a couple of times, and we had some decent field possession. I thought that helped us early on.

“We knew there would be a charge – we knew they would come after us. At halftime, we talked about being prepared for the onslaught. I thought we did a pretty good job of holding them off.”

Molk attempted 29 passes, completing 20 for 236 yards. Ravine was one for one in the passing department, good for 49 yards. Hostetler had 10 receptions for 91 yards and added 46 more yards on the ground. Ravine finished with seven catches for 107 yards.

The Crimson Tornadoes finished with 489 yards of offense (204 coming on the ground). Junior Connor McGarry had 97 rushing yards on 13 tries.

“Offensively, we did not score a lot in the second half but were able to burn some clock by running the ball,” Ifft said. “We took it deep into their territory a couple of times, and that was pivotal. Our running backs have a nice ability to find a crease.

“Obviously, if you are going to play well in a big game like this, you have to run the ball. Being a passing team, we have learned that you have to run the ball and burn some clock. I thought we did that well in the second half, and it gave us an opportunity to win.”

James paced Big Red’s offense with 214 rushing yards on 19 carries. In addition to his long TD run, he also scampered 56 yards early in the second quarter, reaching the Dover 2 before being stopped. The Dover defense stiffened, however, and stopped Big Red on a 4th-and-goal from the one. Kernahan finished with 130 passing yards.

“As bad as we played during our first three series, the score was still 0-0,” Saccoccia said. “After that, we didn’t do anything right. We started off really good on defense but not very good offensively. Then things just snowed balled both ways.

“This game really had nothing to do with our game against Dover earlier in the season. If it did, we could have just mailed in it and moved on.”

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