STEUBENVILLE - In just a shade more than 3 minutes, the bottom fell out of Indian Creek's first playoff appearance since 1997.
The Redskins stunned Friday's overflow Harding Stadium crowd by taking the opening kickoff and marching 76 yards for a touchdown. Then came that dreaded span of 3 minutes and 7 seconds.
In that time, Big Red scored 21 straight points and dominated from there as they registered a 68-13 victory in Division III Region 11 quarterfinal action. The victory advances Reno Saccoccia's 11-0 club into next week's semifinals where it will meet Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. The official site will be announced Sunday but early indications are the battle will be staged at Canton's Fawcett Stadium.
Big Red’s Jo Jo Piero breaks free for yardage Friday night against Indian Creek.
Photo by Ron Gardner
Mooney advanced via a 42-22 victory against Canal Fulton Northwest.
Indian Creek, which earned a share of its first Buckeye 8 title this season, finishes at 8-3.
''It's a 48-minute game, no matter how you look at it,'' Saccoccia said. ''They won the first 2 minutes and we won the rest of the game. I want to congratulate Coach Andrew Connor, his staff and his players for a great season. They came out and played their game and we played our game. We just had more breaks than they did.''
Creek's seven-play scoring march was capped when David Kemp and Mike Furda hooked up on a 21-yard scoring toss. Fabio Mattina added the extra point. Furda, who was injured in the first quarter and didn't return, had two grabs for 23 yards on the drive.
Big Red's first offensive possession ended in a three-and-out. The scoring barrage began the next time they touched the ball.
Taking over at its own 3, Steubenville marched 97 yards. The key play came when Big Red gambled on a fourth-and-3 from its own 34. Lined up in punt formation, Steubenville put the ball in the hands of William Houst on a direct snap. He plowed forward for 5 yards and the first down. Several plays later, LeShawn Luke scored on a 1-yard plunge. Luke Smith then hit the first of eight straight conversion kicks.
On Luke's run, Creek was flagged for grabbing his facemask. Thus, Smith teed the ball up at the Redskins 45. Saccoccia gambled again, calling for a short kick, which was recovered by Luke. Two plays later, Jo Jo Pierro sprinted 15 yards on a toss sweep play for the six-pointer.
The score went to 21-7 when Marcus Prather found Eric Robinson all alone over the middle. The pass-and-run covered 27 yards.
Creek did answer, going 67 yards in 11 plays. Mark Ludewig powered his way to paydirt from the 2. The extra point attempt failed.
Big Red scored two more times in the opening half. One came on a 53-yard Prather to Najee Murray pass and the second when Prather hit Luke for 21 yards. The Luke score was set up by a Matt Petrella interception.
After Creek held Big Red to a three-and-out on its first possession of the half, Steubenville responded with five straight scores. Three of Prather's final five passes in the first two quarters resulted in touchdowns.
In the second half, Big Red scored the first five times they touched the football, meaning they went 10-for-10 in the possession-to-scores category from the first quarter on.
Pierro went 84 yards on a throwback screen pass, and then motored in from 19 yards away. Luke raced 29 yards for a touchdown and Randy Otis zoomed 24 yards for six on his only carry. The night's last score came on a 12-yard burst by Chez Glenn.
Big Red's offense ran 64 plays for 646 yards. Pierro had 16 carries for 162 and Luke added 74 on just seven carries. Pierro also had 95 receiving yards. Prather had another stellar outing, hitting 11 of 16 for 245.
''I don't think our offense has changed all year,'' Saccoccia said. ''We just have to eliminate mistakes. In the first series, we were misaligned. They came out in a defense we didn't expect.
Creek finished with 70 yards on the ground. Kemp did pass for 189. Blake Roar grabbed five Kemp tosses for 54 yards.
''The kids played hard,'' Connor said. ''Things kind of got away from us. I am proud of the kids for the whole season.
''Obviously, when things get away from you like that, it falls on me as the head coach. I just feel disappointed for our kids that the season didn't end in a more positive way.''