By ED LOOMAN
For the News-Register
STEUBENVILLE - The offense was efficient, the defense rock solid and Big Red cruised to a 28-0 victory against Maysville in an Ohio Division III, Region 11 quarterfinal Saturday at Harding Stadium.
Big Red's offense rolled to 421 yards (284 on the ground and 137 via the air). Dashon Redman continued his late season run, compiling 129 yards on 14 carries. During the past four games, he has rushed for 530 yards. Donte Brown added 115 on 13 trips.
Meanwhile, the defense was downright nasty. Maysville finished with just 70 yards of offense and six first downs. The Panthers were forced to punt on nine of their 11 possessions.
The victory moves Reno Saccoccia's club to 9-2. Big Red, now 47-21 all-time in playoff games, will battle Millersburg West Holmes in the regional quarterfinals.
"Every win is a great win," Saccoccia said. "I loved the way they played; they played tough. We got some breaks and we took advantage of them. But, we have to fix the penalties and the turnovers."
Big Red was hit with 10 penalties for 100 yards. In addition, they lost two fumbles, one coming in the Maysville end zone.
After the defense forced the first Maysville punt of the evening, the Big Red offense went to work. Starting at its own 27, the region's third-seeded club marched 73 yards in nine plays. The touchdown came when Redman got loose on a toss sweep and motored 45 yards. After Big Red was hit with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, Luke Smith's 35-yard extra point attempt was blocked.
The second score came after Maysville coach Craig Clarke decided to gamble on fourth and five at his own 26. Justin Wilson's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell incomplete. Three plays later, Corey Stinson floated one to a wide open Eric Robinson and Big Red was up 12-0. The pass play covered 24 yards. Robinson and Stinson also hooked up for the two-point conversion.
Big Red's defense came through with a huge effort late in the second quarter to thwart Maysville's best scoring chance of the night. The Panthers had first and goal at the nine after Brandon Bush stripped Stinson of the football. Big Red was hit with a defensive holding penalty on the initial Maysville play, moving the pigskin to the five. The Big Red "D" forced a fumble on what appeared to be an end around pass, preserving the first half shutout.
Steubenville took the second half kickoff and moved 81 yards in five plays. Stinson hit Matt Petrella for 50 yards before Redman reeled off runs of four, five and four. The third score came when Stinson found a wide open Petrella from 18 yards away. Smith added the extra point.
The final touchdown came midway through the final period, Brown plowing in from three yards away. Smith again nailed the conversion try.
Stinson completed 10 of his 17 passing attempts. Petrella was on the receiving end of five for 79.
"We ran the ball very well and we passed it very well at times," Saccoccia said. "We've got to work on protecting, we just have to protect better. And, we have to stop the penalties on offense.
"Our offensive line is improving. We're not where we want to be but we have made substantial progress."
Teshawn Luke along with Robert Hayden and Camron King recorded sacks for the Big Red defense. Hayden and Charles Keenan both recorded tackles for losses. All five Maysville possessions in the second half ended with punts.
"The defense played great," Saccoccia noted. "Every Wing T team is a little different. We had to find out what they did best and take it away. You always want to try and make every offense you face play left-handed.
"Our defensive line also is improving. Early on, we weren't getting lined up as quick as I would like, but we were able to fix that."
Looking ahead to the quarterfinals, Saccoccia knows one area where his team needs to improve.
"We've got to fix the penalties," he stressed. "If we don't fix them, we're not going any further."