Fast start helps lift Madonna past Clay-Battelle 36-6

WEIRTON — Madonna scored on the opening drive of the game and got two more touchdowns in the second quarter to give it the impetus for a 36-6 senior night victory over Clay-Battelle on Friday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

While the Blue Dons (4-6) had a 22-0 lead in the second quarter, it was a defensive stand in the red zone with the first half clock running out that coach Darrin Hicks felt was the key to the game.

After Madonna’s third score with 3:53 left before halftime, the Cee Bees’ Sean Hays ran the kickoff back to midfield. Clay-Battelle (5-5) put together an impressive 14-play drive and got the ball to the Madonna 11 with a first down about a minute before the break. Four straight Levi Carrico passes were defended by the Blue Dons, denying the Cee Bees to score.

“We were fortunate that when we needed to make a defensive play, we were able to make it,” Hicks said. “It’s been a couple of weeks in a row where our defense has played well. Coach (Jordan) Allen (defensive coordinator) does a great job putting those guys in a great position, and they really responded.

“Coach (Allen) is a fired up guy, and the guys love him and love to play for him. It’s nice to see all the hard work he puts in with those guys. The last couple of weeks the defense has really come together.”

The Cee Bees opened the second quarter with a quick four-play drive that ended when Hays plowed into the end zone from the 14.

“Looking back at it, that stop was the key to the whole game for us,” Hicks said, who said goodbye to five seniors during pre-game ceremonies. “Clay-Battelle came out and hit us with a reverse on the first play of the second half (a Nathan Swaniger 23-yard jet sweep). They got a little bit of momentum and that

15-yard late hit out of bounds. That didn’t help us. So, if you go back to the stop in the first half, that could have been a massive momentum swing for them. That four-play sequence was probably the deciding factor in the game.”

Hicks came out in a different formation, with three wing backs lined up just behind the tackle on either side and ran quarterback Gavin Dietrich off of it repeatedly. Dietrich got the call for 35 runs and netted 134 rushing yards. That came after running the football for 201 yards last week.

Dietrich also completed 5 of 7 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

“We’ve seen that formation but we just didn’t adjust our defense well enough against it, and they got on us and we didn’t get enough penetration,” Clay-Battelle coach Ryan Wilson said. “There was a place on that first drive by Madonna that we had them third-and-15 and couldn’t get the ball back. After that we threw an interception (one of two by Madonna in the game), they took that in for a touchdown and, after that, we had a fumble.

“We sort of hurt ourselves there at the beginning of the game. I told the kids after the game that it was sort of giving them some presents early. I thought we got right back into it to open the second half. That got some excitement into the kids, and we saw some things we liked But, we just couldn’t stop them, and the injury bug hit us. We ended up playing some kids that were out of position.”

Dietrich hit sophomore Tom Sessi with a 20-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game. Dietrich ran the ball in for the two-pointer.

Sessi intercepted a Seth Casino pass at Madonna’s own 40 and returned the ball to the Cee-Bees’ 37 to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Dietrich. That was a 7-play drive, with Dietrich carrying the ball on all the plays.

Senior Dylan Austin recovered a fumble on Clay-Battelle’s first play of the ensuing possession to set up another Dietrich touchdown run. It was an 8-yard dash through a huge hole on the left side. A Dietrich carry into the end zone for the two-point conversion gave the Blue Dons a 22-0 lead that they carried into the half.

Dietrich hooked up with Sessi on a 44-yard scoring play to make it 28-6 midway through the third quarter. Sessi wrapped up the scoring with 6:37 left in the game, with a 3-yard power run through the middle. He ran the ball in for the two-pointer.

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