STEUBENVILLE — The turnover bug hit Big Red hard on Friday’s senior night.
Maryland-based Rock Creek Christian Academy turned three Steubenville errors into touchdowns and earned a 36-20 victory inside Harding Stadium.
“It was a good” said Rock Creek coach Andre Kates. “To be able to come here against an 8-1 team and win – it’s great. Reno (Saccoccia) is a legend here and a close friend. It’s the second time we’ve come here and won. The first time, it was with National Christian and we did it in overtime.
“We studied them a lot. We didn’t want this to be seen as a convincing victory for them. Either they were going to beat us or it would be the other way around. We came out on the right side. »
With the loss, Big Red, who had already clinched a Division IV, Region 15 playoff berth, closes their regular season at 8-2. Late Friday, Joe Eitel had Steubenville second in the computer standings behind St. Clairsville. The Saccoccia club will open the playoffs at home next Friday and, if successful, will also play at home in the second round.
Rock Creek improved to 5-3 this season.
“It was one of those nights but I will say this – we had kids who played their hearts out,” said Saccoccia. “In games like this, the first thing you look at is the coach. When your team is not playing up to their expectations, it’s not the players who are involved, it’s the team. coach. It starts at the top.
“We weren’t ready to play a full 48 minutes.”
After the defense forced a punt from Rock Creek, Big Red’s first possession started at his 47. Nine plays later, Phaeton Hill connected with Isaac Hill for a 30-yard touchdown. Cole Bowers’ kick made it 7-0.
The Eagles entered the board with 4:08 left before halftime on a 6-yard pass from Tahj Smith to AJ Myers. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
Rock Creek got the ball straight away when Arnold Edwards recovered a Big Red fumble at the Steubenville 23. The Eagles took the lead for good at 1:21 when Smith passed from a yard. He then hit Ghyani Kontosis for the deuce.
Disaster struck again for the Big Red on their next possession, Antonio Kornegay pounced on a fumble at the Steubenville 20. With 48 seconds left before intermission, Smith found the end zone on a 20-yard sprint. He and Kontosis connected a second time for the conversion and the visitors led 22-7 at the break.
“We started a lot” said Saccoccia. “We were very good defensively and very good offensively. We had a nice drive for a touchdown, stopped them a couple times with sacks (five to be exact early on), but it’s a 48-minute affair.
“We start a new season next week and we have to be ready to go 48 minutes. We haven’t done that yet. I hope we can practice doing something, but it’s a new season now. This season is over and Saturday starts a new season.
Big Red took the second-half kick and quickly ran 67 yards for a score. He came on an 11-yard pass from Phaeton Hill to Isaac Hill. A conversion run failed
Rock Creek responded immediately, marching 76 yards. Smith got his third rushing touchdown on a 28-yard run.
A Nasir Taylor interception on an angled pass put the Eagles in position to score their final touchdown. This time, Smith moved to 13 yards.
Big Red’s final score came midway through fourth on a 9-yard run from Savier Faulks.
“Our attack had an amazing week of training,” Kates said. “Because of the way the offense was practiced, we told our defensive guys that if they could get four to five saves, we should be able to win the game. The defense ended up getting four turnovers and we scored three of them.
The Eagles finished with 390 yards of offense (145 rushing and 245 passing). Smith had a monster game, completing 14 passes and rushing for 89 yards.
Myers had eight receptions for 151 yards.
Big Red was limited to 131 yards rushing and finished with 137 through the air. P. Hill completed 10 of his 28 passes. I. Hill caught five assists for 101 and a score. Faulks led the rushing offense with 61 yards.
“I want to congratulate Rock Creek,” said Saccoccia. “Their quarterback was really, really good and they had really good receivers. They have a very good attacking football team.
“They played quite well in defense but their attack was very good. We just had too many disappointments on both sides of the ball and it starts with me.
Big Red will be at home next Friday for their Region 15 opener. Their first-round opponent will be officially announced on Sunday. Steubenville will be making its 22nd consecutive postseason trip to Ohio.
Rock Creek Christian Academy 36, Steubenville 20
Rock Creek 0- 22-14-0
Big Red 7-0-6-7
BIG RED: I. Hill 30 pass from P. Hill (Bowers kick)
ROCK CREEK: Myers 6 pass from Smith (failed run)
ROCK CREEK: Smith 1 run (Kontosis pass from Smith)
ROCK CREEK: Smith 20 run (Smith’s Kontosis pass)
BIG RED: I. Hill 11 pass from P. Hill (run failure)
ROCK CREEK: Smith 28 run (Myers pass from Smith)
ROCK CREEK: Smith 13 run (missed pass)
BIG RED: Faulks 9 run (Bowers kick)
PREVIOUS: Rock Creek 34-145-4 (Smith 16-89-4; Marks 7-19; Denson 3-16; Jackson 3-17; Dorsey 4-8; Spain 1-(-3)); Big Red 29-131-1 (Bozica 6-34; Faulks 9-61-1; Ostovich 5-13; Edwards 2-3; P. Hill 2-0; Minniefield 3-16; Sims 1-0; Pierce 1- 4).
PASSING: Rock Creek 15-29-245-1 (Smith 14-26-245-1; Jackson 1-3-0); Big Red 10-28-137-1-2ints (all by P. Hill).
RECEPTION: Rock Creek 15-245-1 (Myers 8-151-1; Kontosis 3-27; Kitchen 1-35; Marks 1-17; Denson 1-0; Glass 1-15); Big Red 10-137-1 (I. Hill 5-101-1; Hopkins 2-14; Buggs 1-13; Kernahan 1-2; Sims 1-7).
FIRST WORMS: Rock Creek 19; Big Red 18.
PENALTIES COURSE: Rock Creek 22-147; Big Red 5-33.
PUNTS: Rock Creek 4-29; Big Red 1-32.
FUMBLES-LOST: Rock Creek 0-0; Big Red 3-2.