When Steubenville needed some fresh legs Friday night, Robert Hayden was ready to answer the call.
The junior running back plowed his way for 56 fourth-quarter yards and scored the game-winning touchdown as Reno Saccoccia's club held off Cleveland Benedictine 32-28 on Legends Night at Harding Stadium.
"That was my plan," Saccoccia said. "The whole game he wanted in there, but I kept telling him we need you in the fourth quarter. We needed fresh legs and he was going to be fresh. They had just as many two-way players as we did. I told him we need your fresh legs and we need you to protect the ball."
Ben Malbasa's Bengals took a 28-25 lead with 9:30 to go when senior Terrell Clark bulled his way in from 5 yards away. His run capped a 71-yard drive engineered by freshman quarterback Brian Schoeffler, who was pressed into action after senior Daniel Piascik went down with an injury. On the scoring march, Schoeffler passed for 53 yards and ran for 12 more. He also found Marshall Howell for the 2-point conversion.
That's when Hayden put his fresh legs to work. On first-and-10 from the Big Red 25, he burst up the middle for 30 yards (prior to that run, he had one carry for 1 yard). Senior Teshawn Luke added 25 more on two attempts. Quarterback Corey Stinson then found senior receiver Matt Petrella for 3 more, putting the ball at the Benedictine 12.
On a critical fourth-and-2, Hayden smashed through the Bengals line again, giving Steubenville a first-and-goal at the 3. One play later, he found the end zone. Luke Smith's kick put Big Red ahead to stay.
Benedictine tried to rally again behind Schoeffler. He hit Demetrius Scott for 20 yards, advancing the football to the Bengals 38. Hayden then showed his defensive legs were fairly fresh also. On second-and-9, he broke through from his linebacker spot and dropped Schoeffler for a 10-yard loss. He followed on third down by knocking down a Schoeffler pass, forcing the visitors from Cuyahoga County to punt.
Big Red started the game's final drive from their own 48. Thanks to the running of Hayden and senior Dashon Redman, Saccoccia's crew was able to pick up a couple of first downs and preserve a victory to move to 2-0.
"It was a real good football game," Saccoccia said. "I was disappointed in my organization, normally I do a better job. I have no excuses. I think my lack of organization put a lot of pressure on the kids out there playing. I have to be more organized going forward."
For the night, Big Red finished with 317 yards in offense (227 rushing and 90 passing). Luke was the top ball carrier, getting 91 on 11 trips and scoring twice. Stinson connected on nine of 13 tries.
Thanks to several sacks and tackles for losses, Benedictine's final rushing statistics were 29 carries for 5 yards. The Bengals added 234 through the air.