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Morrell, balanced McDonald too much for Lowellville

October 19, 2013
By JOHN VARGO - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

LOWELLVILLE - Matt Morrell's eye black ran down and filled his cheeks after Friday's game.

The McDonald senior feature back did his share of sprinting away from the Lowellville defense.

He began the Blue Devils' first drive with a pair of sweeps - one right, the other left. Each tallied around 20 yards to eventually set up McDonald's first score.

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It set the tempo as the Blue Devils rolled past Lowellville, 39-19.

"It set up pretty much the whole thing," Morrell said. "They would give me a sweep and I would do a motion. Then, it would set up power because there were a whole bunch of runs up the middle because they (Lowellville's defense) were on their toes."

"He's our go-to guy in the backfield," McDonald coach Dan Williams said of Morrell. "All three of those guys, (Morrell), Cameron Ifft and Jake Reckard, they're all good at what they do. Our line blocked very well tonight."

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For the Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
McDonald running back Matt Morrell (6) runs the football in space to avoid Lowellville tackler NIck Lucente (9) during the first quarter of Friday night’s game.

Morrell had 12 carries for 117 yards, while Reckard added 12 rushes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Ifft had 17 carries for 83 yards and two scores.

Despite a 13-0 McDonald lead after one quarter, thanks to two rushing scores by Ifft and Reckard, McDonald showed its versatility. Sophomore quarterback Ben Carkido displayed the Blue Devils (6-2, 4-1 Inter-Tri County League, Division II) were more than a rush-only team.

Carkido went 6 of 9 for 138 yards and three touchdowns.

"We have three good backs, but teams are trying to shut those guys down," Williams said. "I think the pass has now opened it up. Ben is making good reads and good throws. We're catching the football and the line is blocking real well."

The sophomore quarterback showed his arm strength on a 53-yard pass to Morrell late in the second quarter and on a well-timed out route to Reckard for 21 yards earlier. But, the most interesting and precarious pass was one that seemed to be intercepted by a Lowellville defender, but it wiggled out of his hands and into Tom Rebraca's awaiting mitts for the eventual score from 27 yards out.

Carkido was 6 of 7 at halftime for 138 yards and three scores, while McDonald rushed 22 times for 178 yards and two scores - taking a 33-6 lead at intermission.

"The line helps me a lot of time on that, gives me time to throw. That's a big part of the passing," Carkido said.

Williams added the experience on the offensive line helps.

"Everybody's back from last year's team, so we've got some experience there," Williams said. "We have a lot of seniors up front. Those guys have been around for a while. ... We're a run-oriented football team and it's because of our front line."

Normally, things get physical down in the trenches. Friday was no expectation. This time, the officials took close notice of the aggressive play. They showed their appreciation with plenty of yellow flags strewn across the field. Lowellville had five penalties for 60 yards, while McDonald had 10 penalties for 97 yards.

"We hadn't done this all year," Williams said. "This is one of the games where we had a bunch of holding calls where we normally don't. They're a physical football team and aggressive. That sometimes add to holding calls and things like that.

"We've got to clean that up. You can't take away big plays from holding calls and back our team up. We've got to finish drives without penalties."

Lowellville (5-3, 3-2) wanted to get something going against an aggressive McDonald defense that allowed 100 yards rushing at halftime, with a good chunk being a 68-yard touchdown run by Jesse Terwilliger in the second quarter.

McDonald was held to a 4-yard touchdown by Ifft in the fourth quarter. Lowellville moved the ball much better in the second half as quarterback Alex Harklerode, who had 7 yards at halftime, was 5 of 11 for 129 yards - including a 69-yard TD pass to Phil Ginnis, who had five catches for 110 yards.

"Our kids came out flat," Lowellville coach Jeff D'Altorio said. "I was disappointed in a big game like this. I thought we made some adjustments in the second half, but by that time it was too late."

Although McDonald lost to ITCL Division II leader Western Reserve earlier this year, McDonald is hopeful Western Reserve may slip against Mineral Ridge or Wellsville in order to force a tie for the Division II crown.

"We're going to try to keep pace, stay one back," Williams said. "But if we win out, we're going to be in the playoffs and that's the most important thing for us right now."



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