WEIRTON - On St. Marys' initial drive of Friday's West Virginia Class A quarterfinal against Weirton Madonna, the Blue Devils drove 97 yards on 17 plays and ate up more than seven minutes off the clock.
It culminated in a 1-yard quarterback sneak by quarterback Andrew Cosper for an 8-0 lead as a hush loomed over Jimmy Carey Stadium.
A Blue Dons defense that had been so stout all season looked nothing of the sort.
''We knew that was going to be a struggle for us with a big offensive line and they ran the ball real well,'' Madonna coach Doug Taylor said. ''We got to the point where we bent but didn't break.
''I figured we would hold up better in the second half, and we did even though they still ran the ball pretty well. But that is a pretty good football team.''
''Bend but don't break'' is coach-speak, but it was clearly evident. The Blue Dons gave up yards - 281 of them - but allowed St. Marys to score only twice.
St. Marys coach Jodi Mote didn't deviate from his game plan. The Blue Devils threw the ball five times and the first pass didn't come until 9:16 left in the game, running mostly out of the wishbone.
For Madonna, it was up to the guys in the trenches - Travis Brown, Nate Guio, Tyler Ewusiak, Quintin Hukill, Garret, Beaver, Nick Ossman, Gabe Hypes, and James Fulciniti - to get the job done if there was going to be a next week.
''They lined up even set and just ran right at us,'' Brown, a junior defensive tackle, said. ''They tried to power us and at first we had a little trouble. We hadn't seen that much and after we picked up on it, we settled in and ran our defense.
''We didn't make many adjustments, a few moving guys around to try to get better angles on the football or where they were attempting to run.''
St. Marys tailback David Gray rushed for 143 yards and picked up big first downs.
Fullback Derek Barnhart was load to handle and got the tough yards.
Quarterback Andrew Cosper scored on a quarterback sneak, and if it looked like he was going down, he quickly pitched out to Gray, Barnhart or Noah Spitzer.
St. Marys punted just once.
''They were double-tight, bone backfield and it was hard to prepare for that because we don't have the kids that can give us a good look,'' Taylor said. ''We practiced like we normally do, but it was hard to simulate. They didn't give us formations that we hadn't prepared for but it was tough to defend against a good football team.''
St. Marys may have moved the ball, but Madonna made the stops when it needed to. Another word to describe the Blue Dons defense was ''opportunistic.''
After Madonna had tied the score 8-8 in the second quarter, St. Marys marched down the field, only to watch Gray lose the ball and Blue Dons standout Ross Comis pounce on it.
With Madonna holding on to a 22-14 lead in the fourth quarter, a fourth-down halfback pass was intercepted on the goal line by Comis.
''We are very confident in all our players and we always talk about each of us being just 1/11th of the defense,'' Brown said. ''If everybody does their job, the outcome should be pretty good so we are trusting that everyone does their job in the end.
''Any tough situation, we give and give but when it comes down to needing to make a play, we push ourselves to our limits until we don't break. We never will.''