NEW PHILADELPHIA - Layne Perone is the real deal and the rest of the West Holmes football team isn't bad either. Just ask Big Red.
Perone, the junior fullback, ran for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns as West Holmes dominated mistake-plagued Big Red, 35-7, before an overflow crowd Saturday at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium.
With the victory, the Knights (11-1), who scored 29 straight points to seal the deal, advance to play Dover in the Ohio Division III Region 11 final this week. Big Red, which fell in the quarterfinals for the second straight year, closes at 9-3.
Coming into the second-ever meeting between the schools, Perone had more than 1,700 yards and 29 touchdowns, both school records. He did most of his damage Saturday in the first half when the Knights grabbed a lead they would never relinquish.
As a team, West Holmes rolled to 327 in total offense (273 on the ground and 54 via the air). The Knights defense held the potent Big Red ground game (which went in averaging 221 an outing) to less than 100 yards.
"Congratulations to West Holmes, they're a real good football team," Big Red's Reno Saccoccia said. "They have tough kids and they are well coached. (Saturday), they played a great game.
"The key to being a good team and having a good game is to take advantage of opportunities. The key to a bad game is give opportunities. We gave them opportunities and they took advantage of them."
Gabe Snyder, West Holmes' 6-foot-5 senior quarterback, complimented Perone's effort with a big night of his own. He ran for 45 yards and passed for 54 and a score. His 36-yard scamper on a third quarter bootleg led to the fourth Knights touchdown.
"Perone is good but their quarterback made some big plays," Saccoccia added. "He had a couple of big completions and a couple of big runs. And, he played great on defense (Snyder doubles as a defensive end).
"That junior (Perone) is the glue to the team, he makes it go. But the quarterback did some good things tonight. They didn't throw the ball that well all year but they made key plays. That is why they are in the regional finals. They made key plays and we didn't."
West Holmes struck first, taking the opening kickoff and moving 65 yards in eight plays. Perone accounted for 44 of the total and scored from nine yards out.
Big Red answered with a five-play 53-yard march set up by Michael Jett's 33 yard kickoff return. The touchdown came on a 45-yard swing pass from Corey Stinson to Kai McClurg. McClurg sprinted down the sidelines after making the catch, getting a key block from Matt Petrella. Luke Smith knocked through the extra point.
On possession No. 2, Big Red moved from its own 14 (a personal foul penalty created the poor field position) to the West Holmes 42. Stinson was 4-for-4 on the march for 36 yards. Faced with a fourth and two, Saccoccia decided to gamble but Dashon Redman was stopped just short following a very questionable spot.
The Knights made Big Red pay for taking that risk, quickly going 60 yards in nine plays to grab the lead. Perone scored again, this time from 14 yards away. The scored went to 14-7 when 6-6 Brock Macaulay rose up and grabbed a pass from Brady Arnold for the two-point conversion.
Big Red had a chance just before the half when Stinson found Tajuan Lawson for a 39-yard completion to the West Holmes 25. Instead of trying a long field goal, Saccoccia opted to go for the touchdown but Stinson's pass to the end zone fell incomplete. The opportunity was set up by a Charlie Keenan sack of Snyder.
Disaster struck the third-seeded Big Red on the second half kick. The receiver lost the handle, West Holmes' Alex Wengerd falling on the loose pigskin at the 28. Snyder hit Arnold for a quick six and Logan Gallion added the extra point.
Saccoccia's crew did show some signs of life following that crucial miscue, moving from its own 35 to the West Holmes 27. The drive stalled thanks to a holding call and an incomplete pass.
"Even after that fumble, we had a good return and there was life down 21-7," Saccoccia said. "I felt pretty confident until we didn't make it on fourth down. I felt confident in our kids at the time. They fought through adversity all year. It was just not our night. Of course, West Holmes was part of the reason it was not our night."
After that, the rout was on. West Holmes would score two more times while stuffing the Big Red offense.
When asked about the high-powered West Holmes running game, Saccoccia pointed out "that is their M.O."
"We gave them too many opportunities and they took advantage. At half I thought we were still in the game. We had a bad start to the second half and they did what they were supposed to do."
Going into the bout, Saccoccia knew his Big Red needed to eliminate the penalties and protect the ball. Instead, his gridders drew seven flags and lost the big fumble.
Stinson finished the night by throwing for 164 yards and a touchdown. Lawson, McClurg and Petrella all had three catches.
"At the end of the game, I love those kids," Saccoccia noted. "That's a lonely place to be, out there down 35-7 during their last game. They kept fighting all the way to the end. West Holmes was the better team and they were better coached then we were.
"We didn't do the little things you need to do to be a champion. I really wasn't disappointed in our offense or defense. I was disappointed that we didn't do the little things. That's why they're moving on, they did the little things and took advantage of opportunities."