The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 9, 2013

Madison mauls South

Blue Streaks batter PAC rival in Region 3 quarterfinal

Staff Writer

WILLOUGHBY — Madison coach Tim Willis insisted his Blue Streaks were a different team they were four weeks after a 48-24 defeat at South on Oct. 11.

Willis had a valid point, Madison had rattled off three-consecutive shutouts to close out the season and got a second crack at the Rebels in a Division II, Region 3 quarterfinal at Harry E. Winters Stadium.

Turns out, Willis was right as his Blue Streaks stormed out to a 35-0 lead and hammered South, 42-14.

As impressive as the No. 6-seeded Blue Streaks offense was in racking up 42 points, their defense was stifling, holding the Rebels’ potent rushing attack to just negative-8 yards, sacking quarterback Russell Porter nine times.

“We had a lot of different pressures, we studied their pass protection and sorta knew how we could get in there,” Willis, whose team will play No. 2 Brecksville-Broadview Heights at a neutral site next week, said. “We had great coverage, too. A lot of those were coverage sacks. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort our kids gave on both sides of the ball.

“The way we took the first drive and just took it down and scored on them (11 plays, 49 yards in 5 minutes, 28 seconds). Like I said, I feel like we are a different football team now.”

While Madison is a different team than the one that lost to South in Week 6, it looked much like the same one that shutout Riverside 28-0 in Week 10.

The Blue Streaks (9-2) dominated the line of scrimmage, running 16 of their 22 first-half plays in South territory and scoring on four of their first five drives.

It began with an Austin Burkholder 4-yard connection with Braden Jerome with 4:37 remaining in the first.

After Madison stopped a fourth-down attempt by the Rebels, the Blue Streaks ran a reverse-pass out of the wildcat formation on the first play of the ensuing drive that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown by Aaron Petruccelli from Burkholder.

“You’re on the headphones and you hear it’s (a trick play) coming and you’re just praying, ‘come on, come on, come on,’” Willis said with a laugh. “Cuz the whole play, you’re watching their safety cuz they’re coming up to stop Davis on the run and it worked. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

“They hit us with a trick play on the first drive last time here, so we kind of got them back on that one.”

After another Rebels three and out, Madison marched 45 yards in six plays as Davis got his first of three rushing touchdowns, this one from two yards out.

“It’s the playoffs, gotta keep the ball rolling,” Davis said. “Our defense was playing great coming in, you can’t ask for anything more than that. Our offense was rolling, it was a lot of fun playing in the playoffs.”

After the teams traded lost fumbles, the one of only two miscues of the night for the Blue Streaks, Madison showed off its quick strike ability.

Burkholder hit Petruccelli on a swing pass in the left flat and the speedy receiver outran the entire South defense, going 67 yards to put Madison up 28-0 going into the half.

Burkholder was perfect on the night for Madison, completing all six of his attempts for 130 yards and two scores.

“We don’t pass very often, we see how they’re trying to stop the run and we know what’s going to be open,” Willis said. “We’re kind of crossing our fingers on those ones cuz we know they can be big plays.”

Not looking to let up, Madison took the opening drive of the second half 71 yards in 12 plays, chewing up six minutes, 24 seconds as Davis scored from 9 yards out to push the lead to 35-0.

“That was huge,” Willis said. “We always talk about the first drive of every half and both of those drives were clock eaters for us.”

The Blue Streak defense’s scoreless quarter streak came to an end at 14 though as Porter found Reggie Kendig for a 67-yard touchdown strike on fourth down to get South on the board.

The Rebels (8-3) made things uncomfortable when they scored less than a minute later as Porter found Dylan Caruso for a 7-yard score.

An interception on the next South drive effectively ended any comeback hopes, though.

“We went into halftime, we were down 28, but we felt like we really had a chance to get things going and try to make a couple adjustments and they took about seven minutes off the clock and put us in a bigger hole,” South coach Matt Duffy said. “But our kids responded to it and get a couple quick ones and we thought maybe we could make a game of it. That first drive was a big one but there’s a lot of things we could look at with this game.

“I think they did some nice things early and caught momentum. I think more than anything they got early momentum.”

Davis capped the victory with a 2-yard touchdown run with 3:14 remaining in the game.

For Davis, it was another win for injured teammate Ben Breuning, who is out for the season following a neck injury suffered in Week 9 against Lakeside.

“We’ve come extremely far since our loss to South and with Ben, we’re playing for him right now,” he said. “I don’t know how many guys have their shirts from last week with the No. 8 (Breuning’s number) on the back. But this one’s for him. Hopefully, we’re going to have five game balls for him by the time we’re done.”

Eight is the number on Willis’ mind as in, eight teams remain should his Blue Streaks be fortunate enough to beat Brecksville next week.

“We’ll get the films and we’ll figure it out,” he said. “If these kids keep fighting the way they have been, we’ll figure out a way. They’re going to have to stop us, too. It’s a two-way street. There’s 16 teams left then there’s eight, and that’s Ben’s number so we want to get to that number. These kids are fighters. They’re great football players, they’re great students and they’re great kids.

“I love being around these guys. It’s fun to coach these kids. They’re just good kids and I’m glad to get another week with them.”