JEFFERSON — Everything went according to plan for the Jefferson football team on Friday night. That is until the rope for the victory bell got stuck on the support column.
The Falcons beat St. John 61-6 in Jefferson, marking their first home win since beating Edgewood in Week 2 of 2017. It also was their second win in the last three weeks. It is the first time the program had a multi-win season since going 5-5 in 2015.
Daniel Bruckman led the way for the Falcons (2-6) with six carries for 218 yards and four touchdowns. He scored on runs of 39, 17, 81 and 58 in the first half. His first carry of the game was his shortest run, a 5-yard attempt on the Falcon’s second play.
Jefferson head coach Ed Rankin said he was proud of his senior running back. He called him a “workhorse” and someone who put in the time to improve over the years.
“When [Bruckman] started running the ball in 10th grade – and God bless our kids on the offensive line, most of them were young – but he ran behind a young and not mature offensive line,” Rankin said. “He not only never misses a play in a game, he doesn’t miss a play or take a play off in practice.”
Falcons quarterback Grant Hitchcock also added a couple rushing TDs of his own, scoring on runs of 56 and 60. He also went 7-of-13 passing for 97 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He finished with three carries for 113 yards rushing.
St. John (2-6) couldn’t move the ball throughout the game. Senior Daniel Miller caught a backward pass from quarterback Seth Thomas on the Heralds’ third play of the game.
He found Tyler Cathcart wide open down the sideline for a 57 yard pass, setting up the offense at the Jefferson 9-yard line.
But Thomas was intercepted by Hitchcock on the next play, ending St. John’s best chance at an offensive score.
Cathcart did get the Heralds on the board after returning an interception 54-yard for a score to tie the game at 6. But it was all Jefferson after Hitchcock’s first touchdown run.
Thomas threw for 21 yards on 7 of 15 passing with two interceptions.
He also ran for a team-high eight yards on nine carries. Cathcart caught five passes for 75 yards.
“[Jefferson’s] a well-coached team, and they got a lot of big guys up front that made it difficult for us to run the ball,” St. John head coach Bob Dlwgosh said. “We tried to spread them out. It worked at times, and then we got a little off sync and fell behind.”
Injuries also started to pile up for the 18-man St. John team.
At one point they were down to 12 available players.
“That’s when it really became difficult to do much against a good football team like that,” Dlwgosh said.
For Rankin, his team put together its best three-game stretch of the season.
They picked up their first win at Lakeview in Week 6 and lost to a 4-3 Martins Ferry team in the first round of the playoffs.
After the rope to the bell was untangled, Bruckman was the first player to get a pull.
With a game at Edgewood and a home finale against Conneaut, the senior would like to add two more wins before he graduates, and one more attempt at ringing the bell.