Redemption it is
WEIRTON – Madonna spotted Wahama a touchdown and got behind early, but came roaring back for a 77-50 West Virginia Class A quarterfinal victory in a game Saturday at Jimmy Carey Stadium that you had to be there to believe.
The No. 1 and 12-0 Blue Dons now move on to host No. 4 Williamstown, which defeated Bishop Donahue Saturday, 54-12 in the semi-final round.
No. 8 Wahama was the defending state champions having defeated the Blue Dons in the championship game a year ago by a 43-42 overtime score.
“It wasn’t a matter of revenge,” said Blue Dons coach Doug Taylor. “It was redemption. We felt we let something get away from us that we thought we had, and, you know, that’s compliments to them too. They are a very good football program, but we definitely felt we had to make a statement.
“A lot of times you don’t get the opportunity to get that back a second time around and we looked forward to having the opportunity to play them. And, like I said, just to redeem ourselves.”
They proved it in a big way despite temperatures in the low 20s, a near white-out snow storm and a wind-chill factor that had to be close to 10 degrees.
The cold, snowy and blustery weather didn’t stop the high-powered Madonna offense and neither could Wahama.
The 127 total points scored in the game has to be a West Virginia playoff record. Another oddity in the game was that Wahama went through the entire third quarter and the first nine minutes of the fourth without running an offensive play.
The White Falcons ran only six offensive plays in the second half yet scored 28 points and Madonna was forced to punt just once in the entire game.
Madonna’s dynamic duo of Ross Comis and Eliott Nero were at it again on the snowy Jimmy Carey Stadium turf. Comis ran the ball 26 times for 267 yards and six touchdowns.
Nero ran it 20 times for 185 yards and four touchdowns.
Then, Comis completed 4 of 8 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.
The Blue Dons were able to capitalize on four White Falcon turnovers and that was proved to be huge.
“What really turned things around with those turnovers was that we were able to score off of them,” Taylor said. “When you can score off turnovers, that’s big.
“The other thing was that we were able to take them out of their game. Their quarterback got hurt so that took them out of their passing game, so all they had left was their running game. We tackled a lot better until the weather conditions got really bad.”
Despite not having many offensive plays, the White Falcons scored four touchdowns – three of them were long kickoff returns by senior Kane Roush.
Roush ran two kickoffs back 83 yards and one was a 70-yarder.
“Roush is one of the best and maybe the best running back we’ve seen all year,” Taylor commented. “He’s hard to bring down. He’s got great moves. Good speed. Once he gets into the secondary he’s hard to catch.
“That’s what we talked about all week was to keep him going east and west and not north and south. When he does get going, you saw what happens, he’s got some jets.”
Wahama coach, Dave Barr, was emotional following the game.
“We don’t make excuses at Wahama High School,” he said. “Tonight I was real proud of our guys. We came out here and faced a good program and we gave them everything we had. I couldn’t be prouder of our football players.
“It’s disappointing. It’s heartbreaking, but we’ve had great days together and we’ll have great days again.
In addition to the three long kickoff returns, Roush carried the ball 10 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 22 yards.
“Roush is a great player and he’s been a great leader for us all year. Somebody’s going to get a special player in college next year and I’m going to really miss him. He’s been so much fun to coach and be around. I’m really happy for the career he’s had for us.”
The White Falcons got the opening kickoff and methodically marched 57 yards relentlessly pounding for 14 plays before Roush powered into the end zone from 2 yards out. Wahama ate up 7:42 of the clock and led 8-0 after senior Wyatt Zuspan went into the end zone for the 2-point conversion.
However, three plays prior to the White Falcon touchdown, starting quarterback, Hunter Bradley, a senior who transferred to Wahama this year from Roane County, went down with an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. Zuspan went under center for the remainder of the game.
Madonna quickly retaliated on its first possession going on its own scoring when a scrambling Comis found Marcello Biondillo open in the end zone. The Blue Dons had marched 64 yards in nine plays for the score and when Comis ran the ball in for the 2-pointer, the game was knotted at 8-8.
On the first play after Adam Robertson’s kickoff went out of bounds, Roush blasted through the right side and raced 63 yards to pay dirt. Roush also got the call for the 2-point conversion to give the White Falcons a 16-8 lead.
In a blink of the eye, the Blue Dons scored again as Comis seemed to dodge through the whole Wahama team en route to a 74-yard touchdown run on Madonna’s first play after the kickoff. The attempt for the 2-poiniter failed leaving the Blue Dons down by 16-14.
The first White Falcon turnover, a Roush fumble occurred on Wahama’s fourth play from scrimmage with the next possession and Biondillo pounced on the loose pigskin at midfield and advanced the ball to the Wahama 41.
Three plays later, Nero found a seam over the right side, broke a tackle and found daylight all the way to the end zone – 25 yards in all.
Roush fumbled again three plays later with Gabe Hypes falling on the ball at the Wahama 19. On the first play, Comis went left and dashed untouched into the end zone. Nero tacked on the 2-point conversion this time and the Blue Dons were on their way to the rout.
Comis scored again on Madonna’s next possession this time from 56 yards away giving the Blue Dons a comfortable 34-16 lead at the half.
Comis’ six touchdowns came on runs of 74, 19, 56, 3, 1 and 2 yards while Nero reached the end zone on runs of 25, 10, 46 and 5 yards.