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Football: Big Red Recovers Well

Benedictine coming to town

August 30, 2012
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

STEUBENVILLE - Having to make unexpected changes at important positions mere hours before a season opener can be a huge task for any coach, but Reno Saccoccia faced that problem last week and in a short period of time Big Red reloaded, reshuffled and won again.

Now, with a week under its belt, Steubenville looks to improve to 2-0 at 7 p.m. on Friday night when Cleveland Benedictine rolls into Harding Stadium.

Winning is nothing new to Big Red, which has captured 13 straight regular-season games, but with the added pressure of a boatload of adversity, the Jefferson County school put it all behind it and pulled away late last week for a 28-8 victory against Washington D.C. Woodrow Wilson.

Meanwhile, Coach Ben Malbasa watched his Bengals drop a season-opening, 35-6 decision to Youngstown Boardman.

The two schools have not met since November of 2003 when Benedictine stunned Big Red, 20-17, in a three-overtime classic in a second-round playoff game.

Since that time, Steubenville has been nothing short of remarkable in the regular season, winning 87 of 90 games, including seven perfect campaigns.

Senior Corey Stinson did an admirable job taking over the quarterback duties for Steubenville, completing 11 of 22 tries for 193 yards and two scores in the opener.

''I felt that Corey did a very good job last week,'' Saccoccia said. ''He was very consistent at our scrimmages and that carried over into the game. But while we did not start well as a team, we stayed with it and we were able to overcome our first-half mistakes and player better in the second half.''

After struggling a little early with an interception that was returned for a touchdown, Stinson hit Matt Petrella with a 70-yard touchdown pass and later scored on a 1-yard run, both in the final four minutes of play, for the difference.

Stinson also ran for 37 yards on 11 tries as Big Red racked up 196 yards on the ground as a team, led by senior TeShawn Luke's 51 yards on 13 totes.

Defensively, Steubenville allowed 113 yards of offense, with 47 of those coming on the game's final play. The Tigers spent much of the game with their running attack in negative yardage.

Benedictine, which advanced to the playoffs but lost in the opening round last year, is off to an 0-1 start after starting 5-0 in Malbasa's first season at the school in 2011.

The Bengals only trailed 14-6 in the second quarter and 21-6 at the half against Boardman last week, but will need to shore up a run defense that allowed 274 yards. In all, Benedictine gave up 378 yards in the contest.

Quarterback Dan Piascik is back after throwing for more than 1,600 yards and 11 scores last year, but he did toss 19 picks as well. Marshall Howell and Terrell Clark are the running backs while the top receiving threats will be Will Woodson and Jovon Dawson. Linebacker Antonio Robinson leads the defense.

Howell was actually the team's leading wide receiver a season ago before moving to tailback this year.

''Benedictine has a lot of athletes and a new head coach,'' Saccoccia added. ''They run a combo spread and stack-I on offense and a 3-3 on defense. Their game last week was similar to ours in that they fell behind early because of some mistakes.

''The big difference was that they were playing a very good Boardman team and could not overcome that, while our defense played well enough to keep us going until the offense came through.''

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