WEIRTON - Madonna foot got off to a slow start, but aided by a couple of Bishop Donahue turnovers and a nifty punt return for a touchdown in a 27-point, third-quarter blitz, the Blue Dons turned it on resulting in a 48-20 victory Friday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium. It is the sixth straight victory for the undefeated Blue Dons.
Coming in rated second in the state in Class A, the Blue Dons got a monster night from quarterback Ross Comis who rushed 22 times for 231 yards and two touchdowns. His backfield mate Eliott Nero wasn't far behind as he heated up in the second half and totaled 148 yards running the football with four touchdowns and another score via a 47-yard punt return.
"Once we got the two turnovers in the third quarter and Nero got the big punt return, we rolled," Madonna coach Doug Taylor said. "It was just an avalanche after that and the luck went in our favor."
Bishop Donahue’s Jesse Padlow (11) squirts through the line for yardage Friday night against Madonna as teammates Chris Vani (60) and Alex Riedel (9) look to pick up blocks.
Madonna rolled up 425 total yards on the Bishops defense, which Taylor said was almost completely changed from what he saw when he scouted Bishop Donahue (3-3).
"Bishop Donahue is not a bad team," Taylor said. "I knew they'd come to play. They changed some things up on us as they gave us a completely different look on defense. But that's good coaching on their part. They took advantage of the week they had off last week and tried to put something in that would take some of our running game away."
In a way Bishop Donahue did that because Nero got only 42 of his rushing yards in the first half, but Comis stepped up. The senior quarterback, who should get some votes for Kennedy Award, had 200 yards and two touchdowns at halftime.
Comis couldn't get the passing game going, but he really didn't need to. Madonna passed the ball eight times and completed three of them for 19 yards.
The offensive line was creating gaping holes in the Bishop defense so Taylor stayed with the running game.
"Our offensive line played well," he said. "We expect them to play good week in and week out. We work them hard in practice through the week, but they had an exceptional night against what I thought was a pretty good Bishop Donahue front four."
The big night pushes the Blue Dons dynamic duo to nearly the same amount of rushing yardage in the six games Madonna has played. Comis has gained 797 yards on the ground to date while Nero checks in with 789.
"Big players have big games," Taylor said. "We've come to expect that from these two and they keep delivering."
Nero opened the scoring on Madonna's second possession (the Blue Dons got off to a rough start with the first possession and wound up losing 17 yards and had to punt).
The Bishops went three-and-out with their first possession and Chaice Truex's punt put the Blue Dons in a hole when the ball rolled out of bounds at the Madonna 9. Comis ripped off ground gains of 11 and 35 yards and Nero blasted off tackle for 22 more. Nero got the call again for 8 more yards to put the ball at the Bishop Donahue 15.
Comis kept the momentum going with a 14-yard keeper to the 1 from where Nero sliced into the end zone. Matt Green's kick made it 7-0.
Comis came up with Donahue's first turnover when he stepped in front of a Jesse Padlow pass at the Madonna 23 to stop a drive.
It took the Dons two plays to get into the end zone again. Comis did the honors gaining 3 to the Madonna 26 and then darting over left guard, he saw an opening to his right and wound up winning a foot race to paydirt down the sideline in a play that covered 74 yards.
The Bishops got into the scoring act in the second quarter taking over the ball on downs at their 33 when a Comis pass fell incomplete.
Padlow hit Lavonte Hampton with a pass for 17 yards (the two would hook up four more times in the game for a total of 118 yards) and two plays later Hampton caught a 47-yard aerial that got the ball to the Madonna 1-yard line. Junior Andrew Cunningham bulled his way over right guard for the touchdown. A Padlow pass for the 2-point conversion was incomplete.
Nero returned the ensuing kickoff from his own 24 to the Bishop Donahue 43 to set up Madonna's third touchdown just before halftime. The Blue Dons methodically drove to the Donahue three from where Comis started up the middle and veered to his left going in untouched. Green's kick gave the Blue Dons a 21-6 lead at the intermission.
Bishop Donahue scored twice in the fourth quarter against the Blue Don reserves.
Padlow connected with Alex Riedel for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Cunningham, who led the Bishop Donahue ground attack with 97 yards on just eight carries, dashed 47 yards for his second score of the night.
"I talked earlier in the week about what we needed to do to win and staying away from turnovers was one of them," Donahue coach John Durdines said. "And that's what cost us. You can't turn the ball over against a team of the quality of Weirton Madonna. They're going to capitalize on your mistakes. They had no turnovers and we ended up with three or four."