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Block party in McDonald win

August 24, 2012
By JOE CATULLO JR. ( , Underthelights

NEW MIDDLETOWN - Trailing with more than eight minutes in the fourth quarter, Springfield coach Sean Guerriero called upon Chris Wells to kick the go-ahead 28-yard field goal attempt though he missed two extra points earlier - one blocked and the other shanked.

Thursday, Guerriero said the Tigers are a gap-sounded team but forgot to block Christian Rusinowski, who was also the starting quarterback for McDonald.

Rusinowski jumped between his tackle and guard, and the football smashed into his stomach. The Blue Devils ran out the remaining 8:19 off the clock and secured a 13-12 victory.

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
McDonald’s Cameron Ifft crosses the goal line after making a catch and sprinting to the end zone. McDonald defeated Springfield, 13-12, in the first game of the 2012 football season.

"We definitely had trouble with him, even last year," Guerriero said, regarding Rusinowski. "We tried to seal it up, but those are things we have to fix going into week two."

Rusinowski also kicked the eventual game-winning extra point in the second quarter after he tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Ifft.

"(The blocked field goal was) definitely one of the top ones, but I think the most important play this game was that touchdown pass to Cameron Ifft," Rusinowski said.

Rusinowski passed for 51 yards (all in the first half) and ran for 11.

McDonald coach Dan Williams said the final offensive drive was the most important possession. He added that his team's eight penalties showed youth in the Blue Devils.

"In the first half it hurt us," Williams said. "If we don't make (the penalties), maybe we move the ball a little more and get better in the field position game. I guess you can expect some of those early."

The Blue Devils and Tigers began with punts during their first possessions, but Williams got his team momentum by catching the predator by surprise.

The Blue Devils faced a fourth and short situation around their 40-yard line. In punt formation, the ball was snapped to PJ Mansky who ran it for 32 yards into Springfield territory.

"Those work every five years," Williams said. "We came in here to win. You've got to take chances, and if they work you look like a hero. If they don't, you look like a goat but fortunately it worked."

Later on in the drive, the Blue Devils faced another fourth down and were geared to go for it deep in Tiger territory when they were called for a false start. Facing fourth and 10, the offense stayed on the field.

Rusinowski saw Steve Vidman later than he wanted to, but Vidman was able to catch the tipped pass for 10 yards, scarcely making the first-down marker.

"Oh that was big," Williams said with a relieving sigh.

The Blue Devils were shut down on the first play afterward, switched sides of the field to begin the second quarter, and Randy Walters scampered two yards into the end zone. The extra point attempt was blocked.

The Tigers answered back with 9-yard touchdown run by Ryan Kohler before Rusinowski threw a touchdown pass with less than 2 minutes in the first half.

With 3:19 remaining in the third quarter, Kohler ran a 52-yard touchdown, which was the second play of the drive, before Wells shanked the extra point.

"Some people told us that we were the underdogs," Rusinowski said. "Especially me, I've had it in the back of my mind. We came out hard. We don't know how to explain it without using it bad. We came out balls to the wall, and it just paid off."

Guerriero said the Blue Devils' 215 rushing yards hurt the team the most.

"Defensively, we have to be gapped, and we didn't end up doing that tonight," he said. "McDonald did a great job grinding it out and taking time off."

Rusinowski said going into the game, he wasn't sure what the game plan would be.

"Really? How's a quarterback not think we have a game plan?" Williams said with a laugh. "It was to run the football and play good defense."

The Blue Devils will open their season at home on Aug. 31 against Kennedy Catholic while the Tigers travel to face Youngstown Christian on Sept. 1.



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