<div id="single_article_image"> </div> <p id="caption">Sandi Thompson
GETTING AWAY — Harrison Central quarterback Hayden Cassidy tries to get away from a St. Clairsville defender during Friday’s game at Wagner Field.
CADIZ — In his quarter century of guiding St. Clairsville football, Brett McLean has established a program that doesn’t lose very often…very infrequently to say the least. But when his Red Devils do, they possess the ability to bounce back in impressive fashion.
And so it was Friday night at Wagner Field.
St. Clairsville absorbed a tough 30-14 setback to a talented Linsly squad a week prior. McLean’s battle-tested charges, however, responded with a 43-0 triumph over Harrison Central. In the process, St. Clairsville retains possession of the coveted Coal Bucket Trophy.
Earlier this season, the Red Devils suffered a setback to high-octane Wheeling Park. St. C., subsequently, bounced back with a solid 30-20 nod over Columbus Independence.
The Red Devils are now 4-2, the same mark as the Huskies.
St. C.’s latest triumph was not fueled by its usual vaunted ground game but rather solid offense balance. The Red Devils picked up 214 yards on the ground to go with 133 aerial stripes, including two TD tosses by senior quarterback Andrew Vera.
Moreover, McLean’s defensive charges were both stifling and opportunistic. The winners forced three Harrison Central turnovers.
“Coming off the Linsly loss we had an unusual taste in our mouths…one we do not want to get used to,” McLean said. “We had a lot of fun this week in practice. We lightened things up. The kids need to have fun playing football.
“I am pleased with how we bounced back. There are things would could have done better. I will start being picky once I look at the film,” he added. “Defensively we have faced a lot of good offenses this season. That is making us better defensively and we really played well win that regard tonight. It is always nice to get a shutout.”
The win will be a big boost to St. Clairsville in the computer playoff rankings. The Red Devils entered the contest sitting in seventh place in Division IV Region 15.
Senior workhorse Jacob Walker, who entered the game with 460 rushing stripes, carried 13 times for 77 yards and a TD. Sophomore Gavin Schoolcraft, senior Alex Wood and freshman Ollie Muhly also delivered touchdown runs. Muhly’s covered 43 yards.
Vera’s touchdown passes went to dynamic junior Cole Thoburn (55 yards) and senior Drue Jozwiak (33 yards).
Harrison Central was limited to 197 yards in total offense, 106 coming on the ground. The Huskies’ passing attack was hampered as ace receiver Tre Rex did not suit up. He entered the fray with eight TD receptions this fall.
“We made way too many mistakes. When you do that against a team of St. Clairsville’s caliber this is what going to happen,” Harrison Central head coach Anthony Hayes offered. “We didn’t have many positives tonight. Give St. Clairsville credit. They are a quality football team.”
Harrison Central was in ninth place in Division V Region 17 prior to it second setback.
St. C. took the opening kickoff and marched 63 yards on nine plays to tally the only TD it would need. Walker bulled in from the two with 8:27 left in the opening quarter. Thoburn ran in the bonus points for an 8-0 Devil edge.
The Red Devils pushed the lead to 22-0 at halftime, courtesy of two Vera scoring throws. He speared Jozwiak from 33 yards out before teaming with Thoburn for a 55-yard connection. Jacob Meager boomed both PATs.
Schoolcraft’s three-yard TD followed by a Vera to Walker conversion pass made it a 30-0 lighting with 2:33 showing in the third quarter, resulting in OHSAA mercy-rule guidelines.
Wood scooted in from eight yards out before Muhly’s 43-yard scoring burst for the Devils’ final two TDs. Junior MaKenna Booth added the PAT after Muhly’s score, making it a 43-0 final.
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