TORONTO - After a bit of a slow start against Toronto, Steubenville Catholic rolled to a 49-7 victory Friday at Clarke Hinkle Field.
With Central leading 8-0 in a tight defensive-minded contest, the Crusaders exploded for three touchdowns in the first half's final 3:58 as the they dominated in their most complete contest to date.
"They kept us in it until we made some adjustments up front to pick up their blitzing," Central coach Steve Daley said of his defense. "Our defense hasn't been playing bad all year to be honest with you.
"I thought the first half against Columbiana we played well, but we put together a complete game (Friday).''
After Doug Maslowski's 1-yard touchdown and two-point conversion made the score 8-0;, both defenses settled in until Central took the ball at its own 30 with 5:38 in the first half.
Quarterback Brenton Colabella completed back-to-back 16-yard passes to Ryan Fletcher and Zach Herrington, followed by an 8-yard hook up to Kyle Laukert. On the next play, he threw a swing pass to Khalil Jones, who appeared to be bottled up for a loss by the Red Knights' defense. Jones made an outstanding individual effort to break free from the defenders and then scooted 30 yards for the touchdown.
Another superior individual effort, this time on defense, put Central up 22-0 two plays later. On second-and-1, Toronto's Blaze Glenn sent a pitch to his running back, but the ball never reached its destination as Chris Murphy stepped in front, knocked it to the ground, scooped, and rambled 25 yards for the score.
"That was big," Toronto head coach Eric Meek said. "They were shutting our offense down, and we were banged up a little bit. I was real happy at that point in our defense.''
After forcing a three-and-out, the Crusaders took over on their own 18 with 1:59 left in the half. Four plays later, they scored again. Colabella hit passes of 38 and 37 yards to Laukert and Fletcher before connecting with Herrington for a 7-yard score. Maslowski's point after made the game 29-0, a score that stood at half.
Central officially put things away on the opening possession of the second half when Colabella hit Herrington for their second score, this one from 15 yards out. On the drive, Laukert caught a 34-yard pass and Fletcher hauled in a 19-yard completion.
Toronto scored its only points on the ensuing possession. Blaze Glenn hit Kyle White for a 5-yard score set up by a Chez Glenn 38-yard reception.
The Crusaders tacked on two more third-quarter scores via the rushing attack. The first came on a 20-yard Maslowski run, and the second on a Luke Potenzini 1-yard plunge.
The Crusaders racked up 508 yards on the night. Colabella went 17-for-25 with 346 yards and three scores. Fletcher had five grabs for 118 yards, Herrington five for 96 and two scores, and Laukert four for 93.
The run game accounted for 150 yards on 29 attempts with Maslowski picking up 72 on 11 touches and two scores.
Central's defense held the Red Knights to 140 yards and forced three turnovers. Toronto's ran for 31 yards on 28 attempts.
Toronto was hindered by injuries throughout the game, including the loss of senior Joey Chadwick.
"What was big for them was when Chadwick went down," said Daley. "He's a heck of a player. He was doing a nice job on Herrington early on, and that kind of hurt them. It opened some things up for us, and I hope he's OK. He's a nice player for them."
Both teams are in action Friday with Central (2-2) traveling to Oak Glen and Toronto (0-4) playing host to Valley.