WEIRTON - A convincing 42-7 victory Saturday by Madonna against Wheeling Central ended several years of frustration and let everyone in West Virginia know who should be ranked as the top Class A team in the state.
Madonna capitalized on five Maroon Knights turnovers and the Blue Don offensive and defensive lines controlled the lines of scrimmage. The result was a dominating 409 yard to 180 yard differential in total yardage.
"No doubt the turnovers had a lot to do with this win," Blue Dons third-year coach Doug Taylor said. "One time they were in the red zone and were getting ready to score on us and we get an interception. Then, we were able to convert that turnover into points. Anytime you can do that, it's big."
Madonna’s Elliott Nero (26) gets a mitt on Wheeling Central quarterback Parker Henry (10) during action of their game Saturday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
Photo by Mike Mathison
Blue Dons quarterback Ross Comis made a strong statement for postseason consideration when he ran for four touchdowns and passed for another. He accounted for a total of 239 yards, with 103 on the ground and completed 9 of 12 passes for 136 yards.
"This win definitely got a monkey off my back," Comis said after the game. "I've been here four years and played them twice and couldn't beat them. We knew this was going to be a big game to make a statement in the state. One versus two ranking in the state, so not only does this make a statement, but I think it tells people last year wasn't a fluke and we're back."
Eliott Nero proved to be a thorn in the side of the Maroon Knights (2-1) with 132 yards and a touchdown. He also returned a punt 58 yards to set up Comis' second touchdown in the first quarter, and if that wasn't enough, he caught six passes for 59 yards.
The Blue Dons (3-0) capitalized early when Wheeling Central's initial drive of the game into Madonna territory ended with senior quarterback Parker Henry fumbling at the Blue Don 40-yard line. Madonna tackle, Josh Martin, pounced on the loose football.
The Blue Dons methodically marched to a touchdown, using 11 plays to cover the 60 yards. Comis faked a handoff to Nero and knifed through the middle from four yards out to open the scoring.
Wheeling Central went three-and-out with the next possession forcing Henry to punt from his own 22. Nero gathered in the pigskin at his own 37 and wasn't stopped until he got caught from behind at the Maroon Knights 5.
On the first play from scrimmage, Comis called a quarterback draw and went untouched into the end zone making the score 13-0.
The Maroon Knights were threatening with drive to the Madonna 28 when senior running back C. J. Burch let the ball get loose and it was Grant Retton that got on it at the Madonna 31for the opportunistic Blue Dons.
"They (Madonna) played outstanding," veteran Maroon Knights coach Mike Young said. "They jumped on us early. Our four turnovers in the first half definitely increased their effort. Hats off to them and their coaches. They definitely deserved to win this game tonight."
Comis ran for 4 yards and Nero wheeled through the Maroon Knight defense for 53 yards to the Wheeling Central 12. On the next play, Comis showed his shiftiness by zig-zagging through the Maroon Knight defense.
Taylor chose to run for the two-point conversion and called Nero's number to get the job done giving the Blue Dons a 21-0 lead.
Madonna senior Travis Brown, the top tackler on the rugged Blue Don defense, stepped in front of a Henry pass at the Madonna 10-yard line to quash another Wheeling Central threat. He found daylight on the return and wasn't stopped till caught from behind at the Wheeling Central 18, a 72-yard interception return.
Comis scored from six yards out over right tackle five plays later and Green made good on the kick for a commanding 28-0 Madonna half time lead.
The Blue Dons got the kickoff to start the second half and performed what had to be a demoralizing drive of 18 plays covering 72 yards and consuming the first 9:10 of the half.
Henry scored Wheeling Central's lone touchdown on a 33-yard scamper on the second play of the fourth quarter..