For The Intelligencer
TORONTO - The message from coach Doug Taylor to his Weirton Madonna football team was rather simple this week.
"Our game plan was to come in and throw the football," Taylor said. "We knew he (quarterback Ross Comis) wasn't going to run the football. I think, for the most part, he did a good job throwing the ball.
"Not to take anything away from Toronto, because they are well-coached and a good football team, but I thought we would get the upper hand on them with our athletes."
Enter Eliot Nero.
His 66-yard punt return with 8:16 left broke the Red Knights' back as the Blue Dons went on to scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 41-20 victory Friday night at Clark Hinkle Field.
"We're not into moral victories," said Red Knights coach Eric Meek, whose team finished the season at 5-5. "We were like Rocky Balboa. In the 15th round, we got knocked out. I told them, just like Rocky loves Adrian, I love this football team.
"This was, by far, our best game of the season. I think we also played, maybe, our best opponent of the season. We played four pretty good football teams (in losses) and I think Beallsville will also make the playoffs."
Including Madonna, Toronto's five losses were to teams headed to the playoffs - Wellsville, Steubenville Catholic, Shadyside and Beallsville - a combined 41-7.
The Blue Dons entered the game fresh off an emotionally draining come-from-behind victory last week against the Crusaders.
"We had a nice talk about it, but we took our two days off, celebrated those two days, then got back to work," Dons middle linebacker and defensive leader Travis Brown said. "I don't think it played into how we played. The main focus is just winning the next game.
"Toronto played well."
Blaze Glenn opened the scoring for a 7-0 Toronto lead with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
Nero answered with the first of his four touchdowns on a 5-yard run early in the second quarter.
Chez Glenn went in from the 6 and then Comis hooked up with Marcelo Biondillo for a 63-yard yard score for a 14-13 lead at the break.
Nero scored from the 2 with 5:40 left in the third quarter and Blaze Glenn answered with a 30-yard scamper for a 20-20 score.
Comis hooked up with Nate Guio from the 5 woth 10:32 left. Then came Nero's punt return and he finished the scoring from 13 yards out with 5:31 unplayed.
"They are a tough team," Nero said of the Red Knights. "Every week is going to be a grind for us. Every team is going to give us their best shot and (Friday) was no different. We basically have a target on our backs and we know we're going to get the best from the other team from here on out.''
Nero finished with 72 yards on 18 carries and three scores. Comis was 17 of 23 for 226 for 226 yards and two scores. He is now 65-for-102 for 1,123 yards and 11 scores.
Nero has 1,183 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns.