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Western Reserve wins battle of the Blue Devils

September 28, 2013
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

McDONALD - For a guy who can talk himself hoarse in a library, Western Reserve football coach Andy Hake's voice was unusually clear Friday night.

It might have been because the Blue Devils coach let the players do most of the talking in a hard-fought 24-14 win over the McDonald Blue Devils in an Inter Tri-County League game.

It was a game that was controlled by both defenses, with the exception of two big pass plays by Reserve and a strong fourth quarter on the ground for Reserve fullback Dan Zilke. Quarterback Nick Allison connected with receiver Joe Falasca on touchdown passes of 57 and 47 yards in the first half, and Zilke rushed for 92 of his 107 yards in the final period for Reserve.

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
McDonald’s Caleb Dimery (51) meets and brings down Western Reserve’s Evan Nesbitt during their game Friday night.

Reserve's defense didn't allow a touchdown. McDonald's scores came on a return of a fumble by Zack Conley and a kick return by Caleb Dimery.

"Our guys played resilient," Hake said. "It's about our kids. They (McDonald) are a tough team. I don't want to play them twice. I'm glad that they're Division VI and I'm in VII."

Reserve remains undefeated at 5-0 and 2-0 in Division II of the ITCL. McDonald is 3-2 and 1-1 in Division II.

McDonald could never establish offensive consistency in gaining 120 yards. Attempts to generate a passing attack ended in either a sack or an errant throw. McDonald had only one completion in five attempts for minus-3 yards.

McDonald generated 120 rushing yards, 52 of which came on a first-quarter scamper by Jake Reckard. Reserve dialed up numerous run blitzes to disrupt McDonald's ground game. Linebacker Parker Clegg had a big night against the run for Reserve.

"They have a great pressure defense, and we were worried about that coming in," McDonald coach Dan Williams said. "To beat pressure you have to get to the edge, and we didn't block as well on the edges as we wanted to.

"Every time we got a little momentum we had a negative play. You have to eliminate negative plays to win these types of football games. We had some opportunities and didn't make plays."

Falasca darted behind the secondary in hauling in his 57-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. He caught the ball at the McDonald 15 and scored untouched.

On Reserve's next possession Falasca worked his way beyond man coverage along the sideline and pulled in another perfect pass from Allison on a 47-yard scoring play as Reserve extended its lead to 14-0 early in the second period.

"Our guy (Falasca) is 6-5," Hake said. "He can go to the ball, and we've practiced that all year. When it counted, the guy made a play."

Falasca wasn't perfect. He fumbled after making a catch in the second quarter. Conley picked up the ball at the Reserve 20 and ran in for a touchdown. The extra-point kick failed.

Clegg kicked a 37-yard field goal at the 2:56 mark of the third quarter to increase the lead to 17-6. Reserve later gave McDonald a safety on an intentional high punt snap out of the end zone from the 2-yard line.

Reserve then began to have success on the ground, sparked by the move of 333-pound lineman Matt Mace to H-back. Zilke benefitted on the fourth-quarter scoring drive, running behind Mace seven times for 66 yards, including a 23-yard run for the touchdown to make it 24-8.

Clegg was then instructed to direct the ball straight to the left sideline on the ensuing kick off to take a penalty and prevent a return, but in what looked like an onside kick McDonald, blocker Caleb Dimery picked up the ball on the run at midfield and raced in for a touchdown.

"They're a good football team. Everyone knew that," Williams said. "Our kids didn't disappoint me by any means. We're going to bounce back and finish this year strong."

McDonald is at Mineral Ridge, while Reserve travels to Leetonia Friday.