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MINERVA – The Crestview Rebels saw their 2014 season come to a sudden end Saturday night 45-0 in a Division V, Region 15 semi-final game to Canton Central Catholic. The Crusaders dominated from the start of the game as they built a 24-0 halftime lead and benefited from a running clock in the second half to close out the game with 21 third quarter points.
“I think more than anything it was the speed,” Rebels Head Coach Paul Cusick said. “They are just a solid team, man for man they were just better than us tonight and that happens. When you play a solid team like that you can’t make mistakes and if they get a crease they are going to go the distance and that’s what happens.”
The Crusaders set the tone early when defensive back Emerson Bracken intercepted a Jesse Best pass on the Rebels first offensive possession and returned the pick 55-yards to give them a quick 7-0 lead just two minutes and two seconds into the contest.
“We were hoping to come out with some power and put it to them first, but I mean if things don’t go your way you just got to try to get back up,” Rebels senior receiver Evan Beachler remarked.
The Crusaders were just as effective on offense as defense as they converted three of four first half possessions into points. On their first opportunity, the Crusaders drove down to the Rebels 25-yard line, but that is where the Rebels defense stiffened and forced the Crusaders to attempt a 43-yard field goal by kicker Nick Boron. His boot was accurate as it gave them a 10-0 lead with 5:17 remaining in the first quarter.
They would add a 34-yard run by quarterback Jake Boccuti at the 9:20 mark of the second quarter to push their advantage to 17-0. Then Boccuti would hit receiver John Colangelo on a 25-yard pass with 4:11 left in the first half to make it 24-0.
The Crusaders implemented the running clock just 14-seconds into the second half when Boron took a handoff 50-yards around left end to push the lead to 31-0. That run was the Crusaders first offensive play of the second half.
They would add two more touchdowns on their next two possessions as Justin Ditty scored on a 1-yard plunge with 4:45 left in the quarter to make it 38-0. Then Jimmy Russell closed out the scoring with a 85-yard run with only 16-seconds left in the third period clock to make it the final 45-0 score.
“Aside from Liberty, probably they are the fastest if not better than Liberty,” Beachler commented on the Crusaders speed.
Crestview would threaten to score twice in the fourth quarter as they turned the ball over on downs at the Crusaders 20-yard line with 6:42 left in the game. Then again as the final seconds ticked off the game clock, Rebels quarterback Spencer DeSalvo’s pass was incomplete from the Crusaders 12-yard line.
“I’m proud of how our kids kept playing hard. They never quit,” Cusick remarked. “They fight to the last whistle. That’s why I called timeout there at the end to give them a shot to get into the end zone. Because they battled all year, and they deserved that opportunity, they just battle and battle and never give up.”
“I’m going to look back and say it was a success,” Beachler said of the Rebels season. “They didn’t even expect us to win the league and here we are at the second round of the playoffs.”
“They have a solid team,” Rebels quarterback Jesse Best remarked. “I hope they win it all, they are a solid group of guys, no one talked crap. they are a nice group of guys. I wish the best of luck to them.”
The Rebels close the season with a 7-5 overall record, having won a share of the ITCL’s Upper Tier championship.