Big Red staying patient early on
STEUBENVILLE — Patience is a virtue, and Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia knows why.
“I have to be really patient with this team,” he said after his squad improved to 2-1 Friday with a 40-19 victory over Canada Football North St. Joseph inside Harding Stadium. “That doesn’t mean you drive less or grind less — it just means I have to be more patient. If I am asking them to be more consistent, then I have to do what I have to do, and I have to be more patient.”
Caleb Mitchell and David Tuttle ran for two touchdowns in Friday’s win, while quarterback Clayton Criss overcame a shaky start to throw for 306 yards and another score.
“A win is a win, and I’m always happy with a win,” Saccoccia said. “Our defense played really well, especially in the first half.
“As a team, however, we are not consistently doing the little things. We do those little things but, to be a good football team, you have to do them consistently. We have to be more consistent with our techniques and our assignments. Consistency is something we have to improve on right now, both offensively and defensively.”
Steubenville dodged an early bullet after Criss was picked off on the first play of the game by Schneider Phillippe-Cave. The Jaguars were unable to capitalize on the turnover thanks to a third-down sack by Kwadre Williams and a fourth-down tackle for a loss by Williams and Erik Lulla.
Criss was intercepted again on Big Red’s second drive, this one delivered by A.J. Richmond. Steubenville’s Dylan Cunningham delivered a pick of his on St. Joseph’s next possession, and that got Big Red’s offense going.
On second-and-9 from his own 16, Criss found Lulla running free in the St. Joseph secondary. The pass and run covered 84 yards. Tuttle’s first touchdown of the game came on a 1-yard plunge, capping a 63-yard drive. Ian Phillips made it 14-0 with his conversion kick. The score moved to 20-0 after Mitchell darted in from 12 yards away. That six-pointer came several snaps after an interception by Noah Howarth.
The visitors pulled to within 13 with 5:56 left in the third period on an 8-yard run by Jayden Simmonds. Big Red responded with a 5-yard sprint by Mitchell, the scoring drive aided by a roughing the passer call on St. Joseph following an incomplete pass on fourth down. Tuttle’s second score came after Williams, who finished the night with three quarterback sacks, blocked a St. Joseph punt.
“We had our chances,” St. Joseph coach Blaine Scatcherd said. “We started off with our defense causing two turnovers. We were in their end both times and came away with nothing.
“We’re leading, but those are the types of things that don’t allow you to compete. We’re down 20-7, but our defense couldn’t get off the field on fourth down because of a late hit on the quarterback. We’re just not good enough to overcome those kind of mistakes.”
Isaiah McCartney got Big Red’s final touchdown on a 13-yard run. Criss hit Ty Arlesic for 59 yards on the drive.
Avery Dow-Lalla ran for the final two St. Joseph touchdowns.
“We are getting better,” Scatcherd said. “We were here last year, and we really didn’t compete. We competed this year but just not for long enough stretches. I told our guys we are not good enough to win with nine guys doing it right or 10 doing it right or 11 doing it right for a short period of time.
“We need bigger spurts, we need bigger chunks. Playing well for short stretches is just not good enough when you are playing good teams like this.”
Big Red finished with 392 yards of offense compared to 169 for St. Joseph. During the first half, Steubenville limited St. Joseph to a negative 28 yards. After the half, Saccoccia began to empty his bench.
Lulla, Big Red’s standout middle linebacker, now has three career receptions, two resulting in touchdowns.
“We will get better,” Saccoccia said. “We just have to stick with it and keep working. We continue to drill improving on the little things, but I guess we have to drill it harder or something. We just have to become more consistent.”
Big Red will return to Harding Stadium for a rare Saturday game against The Hun School from Princeton, N.J. The kick is scheduled for 11 a.m.
St. Joseph is back in Ohio, traveling to Lorain.
“Our schedule doesn’t get any easier,” Scatcherd said. “They are a good football team also, but that’s what our kids are here for to play high level quality football teams and get better.
“We are getting better, and we look forward to the challenge.”
Steubenville 40, St. Joseph 19
St. Joseph 0 0 7 12 — 19
Big Red 13 7 14 6 — 40
BIG RED: Lulla 84 pass from Criss (Phillips kick)
BIG RED: Tuttle 1 run (kick blocked)
BIG RED: Mitchell 12 run (Phillips kick)
ST. JOSEPH: Simmonds 8 run (Olivieri kick)
BIG RED: Mitchell 5 run (Phillips kick)
BIG RED: Tuttle 5 run (Phillips kick)
ST. JOSEPH: Dow-Lalla 1 run (kick blocked)
BIG RED: McCartney 13 run (run failed)
ST. JOSEPH: Dow-Lalla 1 run (kick failed)
RUSHING: St. Joseph 39-86-3 (Lefebvre 5-(-40); Simmonds 13-64-1; Bertrand 6-(-4); Baigent 5-4; Arnott-Smith 3-30; Dow-Lalla 7-32-2); Big Red 25-83-5 (Crawford 7-20; Zorne 1-(-18); Mitchell 8-36-2; Criss 1-(-5); Tuttle 3-12-2; McCartney 4-22-1; Wickham 1-(-2); Bozica 1-0).
PASSING: St. Joseph 6-13-83-0-2 (Lefebvre 3-8-15-0-2; Dom-Lalla 3-8-15); Big Red 16-23-309-1-2 (Criss 15-22-306-1-2; Kernahan 1-1-3)
RECEIVING: St. Joseph 6-13-83 (Dixon 1-39; Ready 2-14; Horrall 1-9; Arnott-Smith 1-1; Martin 1-20); Big Red 16-309-1 (Rauch 2-20; Duggan 4-23; Tuttle 2-65; Lulla 2-89-1; Bracone 1-6; McCartney 2-8; Biacco 1-38; Arlesic 1-59; Bozica 1-3).
FIRST DOWNS: St. Joseph 11; Big Red 12.
PENALTIES-YARDS: St. Joseph 12-97; Big Red 7-62.
PUNTS: St. Joseph 5-25; Big Red 3-24.
FUMBLES-LOST: St. Joseph 2-0; Big Red 0-0.