STEUBENVILLE - Catholic Central's offense recorded yet another impressive performance Saturday at Harding Stadium. It was a defensive play, however, that turned the tide and propelled the Crusaders to a 63-14 victory over Barnesville.
The Shamrocks, stung by four quick Crusader scores, cut the deficit to 28-14 just before the half. Kyle Yaquinta threaded the needle to Brandon Burkhart for a five-yard touchdown. David Brown added the extra point.
Matt Johnson's club seemed to gain a little momentum and had the first shot to open the second half. That's when Central's Khalil Jones came through with his game changer.
EXCUSE?ME?SIR — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Doug Maslowski runs over a Barnesville defender during the Crusaders 63-14 win over the Shamrocks Saturday at Harding Stadium. Maslowski ran for 195 yards and five touchdowns in the win.
He made a great break on the ball and picked off Yaquinta's pass, putting the Crusaders in business at the Shamrock 38. Doug Maslowski turned Jones' defensive gem into offensive points when he burst into the end zone from two yards out. Stone Romano's boot made it 35-14 and Steve Daley's gridders never looked back.
During the first 3:57 of the third period, Central scored 22 points (three touchdowns and a safety).
"I thought Jones' interception was huge to start the second half," Daley said. "He stepped in front of that slant and picked it off. We needed that to break their momentum and get the momentum back on our side. That was just a heck of a play he made."
Catholic Central 63, Barnesville 14
Barnesville 0 14 0 0 - 14
Catholic Central 21 7 22 13 - 63
C: Herrington 9 pass from Colabella (kick failed)
C: Maslowski 47 run (Fletcher pass from Murphy)
C: Maslowski 10 run (Romano kick)
B: Pritchard 14 run (Brown kick)
C: Fletcher 15 interception return (Maslowski kick)
B: B. Burkhart 5 pass from Yaquinta (Brown kick)
C: Maslowski 2 run (Romano kick)
C: safety (grounding call in end zone)
C: Potenzini 1 run (Romano kick)
C: Maslowski 3 run (kick blocked)
C: Maslowski 9 run (Romano kick)
C: Parise 5 run (run failed)
RUSHING: Barnesville 32-84-1 (Yaquinta 17-47; Pritchard 6-19-1; Wells 4-4; McGee 4-12; Howiler 1-2); Catholic Central 33-277-6 (Colabella 3-25; Maslowski 17-195-5; Romano 2-4; Laukert 1-(-6); Parise 8-37-1; Erickson 2-22).
PASSING: Barnesville 12-28-143-1-3 (Yaquinta 11-26-124-1-3; McGee 1-2-19); Catholic Central 11-23-210-1-1 (all by Colabella).
RECEIVING: Barnesville (D. Burkhart 1-6; B. Burkhart 3-28-1; Pritchard 2-17; McIntire 2-40; Stewart 3-33; Singleton 1-19); Catholic Central (Herrington 5-84-1; Carapellotti 1-13; Laukert 3-73; Fletcher 1-31; Maslowski 1-9);
FIRST DOWNS: Barnesville 15; Catholic Central 20
PENALTIES-YARDS: Barnesville 5-30; Catholic Central 7-46
PUNTS: Barnesville 4-30; Catholic Central 1-23.
FUMBLES-LOST: Barnesville 1-0; Catholic Central 0-0.
The victory was the fourth in a row for the Crusaders and improves their mark to 5-2. In addition, the win means Central will finish at .500 or better for the first time since 2007. Barnesville falls to 4-3.
On the Barnesville possession following Jones' pick, the Central defense came up big again. This time, defensive end Jake McCann applied heat to Yaquinta, forcing the Shamrock quarterback to throw the ball away. He was called for intentional grounding in his own end zone, giving the Crusaders a safety.
Ryan Fletcher returned the free kick 57 yards, setting up the quick strike Crusader offense at the Shamrock 10. Brenton Colabella hit Zach Herrington for nine then Luke Potenzini plowed over from the one. Romano added the kick.
Herrington intercepted Yaquinta's next pass and Maslowski scored again to end the 22-point run by the Crusaders.
The Central defense finished the night with three interceptions (Fletcher took his 15 yards for a touchdown), forced the safety and sacked Yaquinta three times (Chris Murphy and Romano combined for one, Murphy and Kevan Zapolnik for another and Romano went solo for the third).
"The defense performed well," Daley noted. "We had to make some adjustments at the half. We tightened some things up and the adjustments really paid off."
Central's scoring parade started on its first drive when Colabella found Herrington on a slant route from nine yards away. The march took just five plays. The second Crusader touchdown capped a two play drive, Maslowski sprinting 47 stripes for the score.
The CCHS advantage increased to 21-0 thanks to a 10-yard Maslowski run. This time, the senior took a Colabella pitch and bounced off several Shamrock tacklers on his way to the house.
Barnesville's first score came on a 14-yard sprint by Colton Pritchard.
Maslowski recorded his fifth rushing touchdown on a nine-yard run and freshman Cedro Parise finished the scoring, going over from five yards away.
On the night, the Central offense rolled to 487 yards (277 on the ground and 210 through the air). Maslowski had a monster evening, finishing with 195 stripes on 17 carries. Herrington had five catches for 84 and Kyle Laukert three for 73.
"We were able to run the ball well tonight," Daley said. "Defensively, their effort to defend the pass actually helped us in the numbers game for the run. Doug ran the ball well, the way he is capable of running. It was nice to see the running game get going."
The Crusaders, who had dropped their two previous meetings with the Shamrocks, entered the game ranked seventh in the Division VI Region 21 standings and jumped to No. 3, behind Mogadore and Malvern.
Central will hit the road Friday, visiting winless Weir.