McGuffey send a message pounds Burgettstown 31-7
Posted Friday, November 06, 2015 by Ed Dalton
CLAYSVILLE – For much of the first half Friday night, McGuffey could not find an answer for Burgettstown’s offense. The Blue Devils drove into the Highlanders’ end twice and converted six first downs, but everything changed once Burgettstown reached the 20-yard line. Facing a heavy blitz, Burgettstown got zero points on three trips within the Highlanders’ 20-yard line and McGuffey had 349 total yards to pull away with a 31-7 win in an Interstate Conference game Friday night. The Highlanders (4-2, 5-2) are tied with Derry Area for third place in the conference and Burgettstown (3-3, 3-4) falls into fifth place – one game out of the final playoff spot. “We bent but didn’t break and made some stops,” McGuffey head coach Ed Dalton said. “We aren’t doing as well as we need to do in the run game, but we shored up alignments. We let one out of contain in the first half and we fixed that at halftime. The blitz seemed to work and maybe we need to do that in the middle of the field more.” McGuffey junior quarterback Marcus Czulewicz ran for touchdowns of 41 and 54 yards. He had 22 carries for 167 yards and attempted just four passes, compelting one for one yard. Focused on preventing Czulewicz from escaping the pocket to find options downfield or scrambling for first downs, the Blue Devils kept contain to the outside – leaving only six players in the box. They forgot to account for the 6-2, 195-pound quarterback’s success in the read option. Two plays after recovering the Blue Devils’ onside kick to start the game, Czulewicz faked the handoff and ran for a 41-yard touchdown to give McGuffey a 7-0 lead and helped the Highlanders drive to Burgettstown’s 11-yard line later in the quarter. There, facing a 2nd and 10 play, Czulewicz was intercepted by Blue Devils senior Kody Baldwin, who turned around and ran for a 97-yard touchdown. On its next possession, McGuffey drove to Burgettstown’s 18-yard line, where it settled for Teague Nicolella’s 37-yard field goal. Nicolella also had a fourth-quarter interception. “They just weren’t letting me get outside the pocket because when I get out there, I have the option to run or pass, which is hard to defend,” Czulewicz said. “We were able to find some room, though.” McGuffey senior Joey Townsend also ran for a 49-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Highlanders the 14-0 advantage. He finished with 71 yards on four carries. Sophomore Adam Townsend added 80 yards. While the offense executed after a disappointing showing against Derry, it was the defense and special teams that made the difference. Burgettstown junior quarterback Brad McLaughlin completed just nine of 21 passes for 45 yards and was intercepted three times. The Blue Devils had 208 yards of total offense, including just 13 in the first quarter. “Our d-line stepped up, our linebackers made plays and everyone was making plays down there to not let them get in,” Czulewicz said. “It was huge. It killed their momentum and gave us all of it, which we need in games like this.” Trailing 17-7 early in the second quarter, McLaughlin and junior running back Cole LaRocka, who finished with 74 yards on 15 carries, led a 15-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard missed field goal. On their final possession before halftime, the Blue Devils drove to the Highlanders’ 16-yard line, where McLaughlin was intercepted by McGuffey sophomore linebacker Luke Shingle. On the first possession of the second half, Highlanders senior Shaun Sanders blocked a 24-yard field goal. Each time, Burgettstown could not find room against McGuffey’s blitz. Burgettstown also drove to McGuffey’s 44-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but turned it over on downs. Five plays later, Czulewicz ran for his second touchdown to put the score out of reach with a 17-point lead. “We just couldn’t finish,” Burgettstown head coach Mark Druga said. “Offensively, we just stalled whenever we needed to punch it in. Going into half, we were preaching that this game should be 17-17, but unfortunately, we stalled and McGuffey dug in when it was time.” It was Sanders who helped put Burgettstown away. He ran for a 27-yard touchdown with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter to make it 31-7. The senior wide receiver took an end around, cut back inside and wove right, juking a defender, before heading to the end zone. Sanders also intercepted McLaughlin in the fourth quarter on a pass tipped by Townsend. “This win is huge. It proves we’re as good of a team as we thought we were,” Czulewicz said.