NEW PHILADELPHIA - Madonna traveled the ground-and-pound route to earn a 33-6 victory over Tuscarawas Central Catholic Saturday under portable lights at the Art Teynor Athletic Complex.
The Blue Dons ran 56 plays from scrimmage (53 involved the rush) in rolling to 352 yards of offense, all on the ground. Ross Comis paced the way with 199 on 22 carries and scored four touchdowns. Eliott Nero added 126 and a score.
TCC officials brought in portable lights to stage their first night game on the home field. The victory moves the Blue Dons to 2-0 while the Saints fall to 1-1.
"That was us taking advantage of what the defense was giving us," Madonna's Doug Taylor said. "We thought we were more physical upfront and we were able to take advantage of our size.
"That is a pretty good football we played. The score may not indicate it but that's a pretty good football team."
Madonna's second possession resulted in the game's first touchdown, Comis plunging over from a yard away. The drive covered 32 yards and Comis accounted for 26 of the total. The Blue Dons were given a short field after TCC quarterback Michael Teater was sacked on third down by Grant Retton at his own 10. The Saints punt traveled just 22 yards.
Madonna 33, Tusky Catholic 6
Madonna 7 6 6 14 - 33
Tusky Catholic 0 0 0 6 - 6
M: Comis 1 run (Green kick)
M: Nero 4 run (kick failed)
M: Comis 4 run (kick blocked)
M: Comis 1 run (pass failed)
M: Comis 64 run (Comis run)
TCC: Milleman 34 run (kick failed)
RUSHING: Madonna 53-352-5 (Comis 22-199-4; Nero 20-126-1; Bowser 1-10; Biondello 1-5; Shreve 6-2; J. Ewusiak 3-10) TCC 22-57-1 (Teater 12-24; Griffin 8-(-4); Milleman 2-37-1).
PASSING: Madonna 0-3-0-1 (all by Comis); TCC 18-32-157-0-3 (all by Teater).
RECEIVING: TCC (Price 2-17; Cummings 9-60; Fragasse 3-57; Dick 2-10; Milleman 1-13; Griffin 1-0).
FIRST DOWNS: Madonna 18; TCC 11.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Madonna 4-37; TCC 2-15.
PUNTS: Madonna 1-34; TCC 4-29.
FUMBLES-LOST: Madonna 2-1; TCC 0-0.
The Blue Don D came up huge again on the next TCC drive, which covered 66 yards. On fourth down from the Madonna 1, Teater was unable to find the end zone as the Blue Don line plugged the hole.
Taylor's crew then began a scoring drive that covered 99 yards and ran 6:10 off the clock in the second quarter. All the yardage came on the ground as Eliott Nero and Comis pounded away at the TCC line. Garrett Beaver, the 5-11, 265 pound senior, paved the way for the rushing attack from the fullback spot in Madonna's I formation.
"Once we got the ball down there at the goal after a great defensive stand, we jumped into that I and ran the ball," Taylor noted. "We liked what we saw and realized if we didn't have to throw it, we'd rather run it down their throats."
Taylor added Madonna has been working on the formation with Beaver at fullback since early in the pre-season.
"We don't have a true big fullback," the Blue Don boss stated. "We do have Stevie Maus back there but he's a little banged up. Beaver did a nice job in that formation and Stevie does a good for us too.
"We have a lot of weapons offensively. Sometimes you have to toughen your kids up and I think drives like that really help with our toughness."
TCC's final drive of the opening half stalled at its own 37 after Nero broke through and dropped Teater for an 11-yard loss.
Another big defensive play paved the way for Madonna's third touchdown. Comis intercepted a Teater pass at the Madonna 29 and returned it to the TCC 20. Three snaps later, the Blue Don signal caller bulled over from four yards away.
Will Bowser's pick put the Dons back in business at the TCC 49. Comis and Nero again pounded away at the Saints defense before Comis went over from a stripe away.
Comis got his fourth TD of the evening when he sprinted 64 yards to the house early in the final period. He also ran for the extra points.
"Our defense bends a lot but all in all, we had an outstanding defensive performance," Taylor said. "On a couple of fourth down plays, we gave them a first down. But it was a solid performance against a team that some great skill and likes to put the ball in the air."
In its week one 60-33 victory over Lancaster Fisher Catholic, TCC has 422 passing yards. Against Madonna, Teater hit on 18 of 32 attempts (he was picked off three times) for 157. On the ground, the Saints managed 55 stripes.
Alex Milleman scored the lone TCC touchdown via a 34 yard jaunt late in the game.
Anthony Antinone joined Comis and Bowser in picking off a Teater aerial.
Saturday's game was the first regular season clash between the schools. Madonna now turns its attention to Saturday's huge matchup with unbeaten Wheeling Central at Jimmy Carey Stadium. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m.