Iezzi runs wild in Blairsville win
After 25 years, it's nice to know that the basic elements of winning football haven't changed. Ab Dettorre would certainly concur.
In his rookie season of 1987, Dettorre's Blairsville Bobcats had a standout running back and a fundamentally sound defense. They had a winning season, too.
A winning season in 2011 -- Dettorre's silver anniversary year with the Bobcats -- remains to be seen. But in a 34-14 win over the Blacklick Valley Vikings last Friday at Memorial Stadium, those basic elements were present again.
The Bobcats will look to employ that winning formula once more when they visit the United Lions (0-1) tonight.
It took a series or two for the Blairsville defense to make an impact in last week's game, but not the standout running back. Tailback Andrew Iezzi raced through a hole on the left side to score an 80-yard touchdown on the Bobcats' first offensive snap and was well on his way to a personal game-high 219 rushing yards.
"Twenty-five years ago, I started off my career with a pretty special back in Tracy Williams," said Dettorre. "Well, we have a pretty special back in Andrew Iezzi. I guarantee you there were some blocks up there, but his vision is so good. He's a very gifted running back, but I know he'll be the first one to tell you that he had some craters to run through."
Iezzi scored all three of his touchdowns in the first half while rushing for 185 yards. Blairsville led 20-6 at halftime and would score twice more in the second half before
Blacklick Valley could answer
Speaking of craters, Blairsville found itself in several the past couple of seasons thanks to a defense with crater-sized holes. It looked like more of the same on the first drive of the game.
Blacklick Valley marched 70 yards on 10 plays, including 45 rushing yards on eight carries, to take a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Johnny Sheesley rolled out to the right and found split end Keirnan Keating alone in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Iezzi's answer and Mike Maryai's kick put Blairsville ahead, 7-6, but Blacklick Valley appeared to be back on the march, moving 29 yards on five plays to the Blairsville 40. At that point, Blairsville's defense began to make its mark. Safety Taylor Ferguson made his first of two fumble recoveries to end the drive and turn the rest of the first half decisively in Blairsville's favor.
Blairsville followed up with two drives ending in Iezzi touchdowns of 5 and 37 yards. In between, the Bobcats defense gave up just one more first down in the half and 23 yards.
"I take all the credit for how poorly we played on (Blacklick Valley's opening touchdown drive)," said Dettorre. "We were trying to do all these cute things, and it came down to one adjustment and just play solid defense, stay low, get in the gaps, jam things up, try to make them bounce to the linebackers, and that's exactly what we did. I credit the tackles a lot."
By playing in a 3-5 defensive scheme -- three down linemen and five linebackers -- Blairsville looked to bring eight smaller but faster defenders close to the line of scrimmage and the ball carrier.
"That's the key," said Dettorre. "If we're going to go small up front, we can't stand around and joust, we've got to get going."
"Logan Goodlin had a breakout night and needed a game like that, and Tyler Davis, August Pompelia and Timmy Clemons.... We probably played five, six, seven guys in down positions, and I'm really happy with what they did."
Blacklick Valley's first drive of the second half started out looking much like its opening drive of the game, with four first downs, and the Vikings moved all the way to the Blairsville 12. But Taylor Ferguson again scooped up a Blacklick Valley fumble. This time he returned it to the end zone, but lost the touchdown on a blocking penalty. Still, the 72-yard return set the stage for his 21-yard touchdown reception from brother and quarterback Tyler Ferguson on a fade route. Blairsville led, 27-6.
The Bobcats added their last score early in the fourth quarter on running back Noah Tarr's 2-yard plunge and led, 34-6.
After Blacklick Valley's game-opening drive of 70 yards, Blairsville's defense held the Vikings to just another 103 yards until midway through the fourth quarter and had its sights set on a second-half shutout.
Blairsville backed Blacklick Valley into a fourth-and-8 hole at the Blairsville 44, but Sheesley avoided one tackler and unleashed a 42-yard strike to split end Justin Paul. Paul had several steps on the nearest defender but still had to lay out to make a great catch at the Blairsville 2. Sheesley scored on a 2-yard run to cap the drive.
Sheesley completed his first eight passes and ended up 9 of 10 for 131 yards with two touchdown passes. Tyler Ferguson completed 5 of 7 for 66 with one touchdown.
The Fergusons, Iezzi and several of the linemen are part of a 21-strong senior class leading the way for Blairsville in 2011.
"I knew they'd be very good with 21 seniors," said Blacklick Valley coach Bill Zamboni. "I knew they'd be tough, and we're real young, and the mistakes were just unbelievable. But you can't take anything away from Blairsville. (Goodlin) is tough, and Tyler is, too. They have some really great players, and (Iezzi) is just unbelievable. He had a career game."
A look at the stats
Blairsville 34, Blacklick Valley 14
Blacklick Valley 6 0 0 8 - 14
Blairsville 7 13 7 7 - 34
BV - Keating 6 yard pass from Sheesley (kick blocked)
Bls - Iezzi 80 yard run (Maryai kick)
Bls - Iezzi 5 yard run (kick failed)
Bls - Iezzi 37 yard run (Maryai kick)
Bls - Ta. Ferguson 21 yard pass from Ty. Ferguson (Maryai kick)
Bls - Tarr 2 yard run (Maryai kick)
BV - Sheesley 2 yard run (Dulashaw pass from Sheesley)
Rushing: BV - Riegel 12-38, Sheesley 13-35-1, Edwards 6-23, Campbell 1-14, Smith 1-11, Silko 1-6, Worthington 1-3, Dulashaw 2-2, Croft 1-1, Heming 2-(-2), McEvoy 1-(-3); Bls - Iezzi 14-219-3, Tarr 7-24-1, Maryai 2-13, Thompson 6-12, Ty. Ferguson 2-1, Palmer 1-1.
Passing : BV - Sheesley 9-10-0-131; Bls - Ty. Ferguson 5-7-0-66.
Receiving : BV - Edwards 4-54, Paul 1-42, Worthington 1-17, Dulashaw 1-7, Keating 1-6, Riegel 1-5; Bls - Maryai 3-34, Ta. Ferguson 2-32-1.
TEAM STATISTICS: BV Bls
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yards 41-131-0 32-270-4
Passing Yards 131 66
Passes-int 9-10-0 5-7-0
Total offense 259 336
Punts-avg. 4-32.3 3-36.3
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 6-57