ST. CLAIRSVILLE - No one was happier to get the season opener over with than Brett McLean.
St. Clairsville's veteran coach was all smiles after watching his Red Devils post a 28-7 victory against Claymont on the artificial surface at Red Devils Stadium.
"We're happy to get this opener over with because Claymont has two good running backs," McLean said. "They're going to win a lot of games with those guys."
Photo by Mike Palmer/St. Clairsville quarterback Zach Bigelow (10) awaits the snap during Friday’s game against Claymont in St. Clairsville.
McLean was also happy with the performance of his team, which totaled 245 yards of offense while limiting the Mustangs to 173.
"Our ability to do different things excites me," McLean said. "We need to get a little more polished offensively, but it's the first game and that's how you have to look at it. It gives you things to work on in practice."
After forcing Claymont to punt on the opening series of the season, St. Clairsville marched 81 yards on eight plays behind sophomore quarterback Zach Bigelow, who ran for 42 yards on the drive and passed for another 40. He kept the drive alive with a nifty 12-yard scramble on third-and-11 and followed that up with a 22-yard scamper.
Bigelow's pass over the middle to Brendan Ferns resulted in a 29-yard TD strike when the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder spun away from a would-be tackler at the 20. He then broke a tackle at the 15 before rambling into the promised land at 5:03 of the first quarter.
Freshman Matt Greenwood had a perfect varsity debut by booting the first of his four PATs for a 7-0 lead.
It looked as though the hosts were going to score again when Cole Skaggs drilled Claymont quarterback Tim Zurcher, forcing a fumble that Mikey Berardi pounced on at the Mustangs 22. However, nothing went right on the ensuing possession which ended with Bigelow being sacked on fourth down.
Claymont returned the favor on the first play of the second quarter when Keaton Herron put the ball on the turf after an outstanding effort. St. Clairsville's Malik Gummer scooped it up, but the Red Devils once again failed to generate any offense due to a pair of penalties.
An exchange of punts left the visitors deep in territory. The Mustangs did themselves no favor with a 22-yard punt that set the Red Devils up at the Claymont 39.
On the second play, Ferns busted up the middle and cut to his right where he outran everyone for a 33-yard scoring jaunt. That bumped the margin to 14-0 with 2:36 left before the half.
The third quarter was a punting exhibition as each team booted the ball away twice as the defenses started to take over.
Claymont's passing game finally got untracked on the final play of the third quarter as Zurcher found Herron for a 33-yard pickup.