STEUBENVILLE - Steve Daley has a simple recipe for success in the postseason - run the football and play good defense.
His Steubenville Catholic squad did both in Saturday's Ohio Division VII, Region 25 quarterfinal bout with Racine Southern at Harding Stadium.
The Crusaders racked up 182 yards on the ground while their defense caused four turnovers (one was a pick-6 by Khalil Jones) in scoring a 35-7 victory against the Tornadoes.
Steubenville Catholic, the region's fourth seed, earns a date next Saturday with top-seeded Glouster Trimble, a 63-0 winner against Beallsville. The location for the semifinal battle will be announced today by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Steubenville Catholic, making its 11th appearance in the playoffs, improves to 9-2 this season and 12-9 all-time in the Ohio tournament. Southern, a newcomer to the postseason, finishes at 8-3.
"That was a good team win," Daley said. "Do we like to throw it? Yes, but the plan going in was to test them on the outside, have them chase us a little bit, then try to hit the off-tackle inside. The kids executed what we planned out."
Southern, the region's fifth-seed, got on the board first, needing six plays to move 54 yards. Quarterback Tristen Wolfe hit Colton Walters on a slant route for an 8-yard touchdown.
"That was a little bit of us settling in," Daley said. "They didn't give us anything we hadn't seen out of them. We were not in position on a couple of plays but we got that corrected. Then, the defense stepped it up."
Steubenville Catholic quickly responded thanks to a 42-yard Jones return on the ensuing kickoff. Starting at the Southern 48, the Crusaders needed seven plays to score. Brenton Colabella drilled a 6-yard touchdown pass to Johnny DiCarlantonio, who was standing all alone in the corner of the end zone and John Paul McNamara nailed the conversion.
Steubenville Catholic's next touch ended in a punt and Southern took possession at its 38. On second-and-13, Jones intercepted a Wolfe pass and returned it 36 yards for the go-ahead score to make it 14-7.
Daley called Jones' pick "a turning point."
"It was huge," he added. "Making a play like that kind of got us going. That was a great play by him, it got our motor running and kind of jump started us."
Jones' defensive touchdown closed the first-half scoring.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Steubenville Catholic made it 21-7 early in the fourth, going 72 yards after Louis Fallon recovered a Tornadoes fumble. All but six of the yards came via the ground. Jones got the score on a 12-yard burst up the middle. He closely followed a huge Romano block through the hole and into the end zone
Another Southern fumble, caused by Fallon and recovered by Chris Murphy, led to the next Steubenville Catholic score. After a motion penalty and a yard loss on a rushing play, Colabella used play action before hitting Aleks Porreca on a go route. The senior wide receiver ran past the defender, caught the pass in full stride and crossed the goal. The pass and run covered 45 yards.
"Creating turnovers throughout the game was big," Daley noted. "They allowed us to get the ball back in the hands of our offense. We stayed the course on offense and did a great job of executing the plan."
Ryan Fletcher would stop the next Tornado drive with an interception.
The game's final score came via a 13-yard run by Jones. Jones paced Steubenville Catholic's ground attack with 101 yards on 11 carries. Fletcher added 56 on six totes and Murphy 26 on just two trips.
Colabella threw for 115 yards and two scores and Porreca finished with four catches.