Big Red responds, advances to regional final | News, Sports, Jobs

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ST. CLAIRSVILLE — After taking Indian Valley’s best shot early, Big Red responded in a big way then held on late to reach Week 14.

After the upset-minded Braves opened an early lead scoring the first 13 points in Friday’s regional semifinal, top-seeded Steubenville scored the next 35 to take control and ultimately prevailed 42-35 at Red Devil Stadium.

“I love the way we responded,” Big Red head coach Reno Saccoccia said. “It’s starts with me, I didn’t have us ready at the start of the game. But we got a big play that got our minds back in the game and I thought we played really well after that.”

Big Red, now 12-1, advances to next week’s Division IV, Region 15 championship where it will meet No. 2 seed Thornville Sheridan at a neutral site to be announced.

After his first pass was picked off, Aydan Manning bounced back in a big way to finish with 305 passing yards and four touchdowns, going 18 of 27.

Isaac Hill, who was named the East District offensive player of the year earlier in the week, had a monster performance with eight grabs for 199 yards and two long scores covering 67 and 87 yards, most of which came after the catch.

Sabron Felton also hauled in a pair of touchdowns from Manning finishing with five grabs for 71 yards, while Savier Faulks rushed for 70 and a scoring run.

After falling in the early 13-0 hole and trailing 13-7 after the first quarter, Big Red out-scored the Braves (9-4) 21-0 in the second quarter to lead 28-13 at the break and pushed the advantage to 35-13 going to the fourth quarter.

Indian Valley, the No. 9 seed which had already pulled two upsets on the road the first two rounds, refused to go away, however.

After Steubenville had gone up 42-21 with 5:15 to go and started subbing, the Braves scored a quick touchdown, forced a turnover, and scored again to make things interesting.

An onside kick attempt with 38 seconds remaining, though, was snagged by Big Red’s Lucas McAllister to end the comeback bid.

Indian Valley’s efforts were led by Grady Kinsey, who ran the ball 30 times for 210 yards and three scores.

“Indian Valley is good, their kids played physical and tough,” Saccoccia said. “We didn’t start the game very good, and we didn’t end the game very good, but we played good enough in the middle to get to the next step.

“Hopefully we’re more prepared next week.”

Brody Saccoccia, the East District defensive player of the year, had an interception on Indian Valley’s first drive, but the Braves returned the favor on the first Big Red drive, Kolton Thomas returning a pick 32 yards for a 7-0 Braves lead.

Kinsey made it 13-0 when he scored on a 2-yard run cap the next Braves drive.

The big play that got Big Red going was Hill’s first TD, as he took a screen pass and raced down the sideline 87 yards to put Steubenville on the board.

Early in the second quarter, Faulks broke a 20-yard scoring run, Cole Bowers’ kick giving Big Red its first lead.

Felton then scored the next two TDs while the defense forced a pair of punts and a turnover on downs.

He hauled in a 23-yard catch-and-run to cap the next drive, then a 12-yarder late in the half to make it 28-13.

After Big Red turned the ball over on downs twice in the IV end in the third quarter, Hill broke his 67-yarder on another short pass and long run after to make it 35-13 after three.

Kinsey, who had a would-be 80-yard score taken off the board in third quarter by a penalty, broke a 54-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter to make it a two-score game again, before Big Red, set up at the IV 10 by a good Brody Saccoccia punt return and a penalty, re-took a three possession lead on a 1-yard plunge by Elijah Mullins on a fourth and goal.

The Braves though answered with a 39-yard Thomas TD catch and got the ball back when Big Red fumbled on the next possession, Kinsey scoring his third touchdown on the ensuing drive and a two-point reception by Thomas making it a seven-point game with :38 left.

Big Red grabbing the onside kick and no timeouts remaining for the Braves, though, brought an end to the rally.

The site for the regional final will be announced on Sunday.

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